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Yahoo Says It Will Warn Users Of ‘State-Sponsored’ Attacks

December 24, 2015 - Written By Kishalaya Kundu

Internet companies that store a large amount of potentially-sensitive private information about their users, are getting increasingly cautious about the possibility of what they consider to be highly sophisticated hacking attempts that could only have come by with direct involvement of nation states. While internet biggies are being increasingly proactive in taking steps to prevent such breaches, some hacking attempts may occasionally be slipping through the net every once in a while. In such cases, companies like Google, Facebook, Twitter and now Yahoo, say that they’re informing their users about the suspected intrusion(s), and informing them of ways to protect themselves online.

None of the aforementioned companies, however, have pointed their fingers anywhere or taken any names as to which way these supposed ‘state-sponsored’ cyber-attacks may be coming from. The companies have also refused to give out details about how they detect such intrusions – especially, state-sponsored ones. Just last week, social networking heavyweight Twitter was reported to have sent emails to a number of its users, warning them of probable state-sponsored cyber-attacks that might have compromised their accounts with the microblogging platform.

With internet bigwigs like Google and Facebook also having taken it upon themselves to keep their users safe from state-sponsored hacking attempts, it now seems like the turn of yet another internet giant to do the same. Sunnyvale, California-based Yahoo Inc. now joins the list of companies looking to actively fight attacks from state-backed hackers. According to a post on Yahoo’s official blog on Tumbler, the company’s chief information security officer, Mr. Bob Lord, said that the company will “provide these specific notifications so that our users can take appropriate measures to protect their accounts and devices in light of these sophisticated attacks”. The company says that it too will only step in, if it believes with “a high degree of confidence” that the attack is the handiwork of hackers backed by a nation-state.

Google and Facebook had previously also said that they will start informing their users if it believes their accounts are being targeted by “state-sponsored attacks”. While Google says it will issue warnings to users who it believes are a target for state-sponsored cyber attacks, Facebook says that it will inform users if it believes their account has been “targeted or compromised by an attacker suspected of working on behalf of a nation-state”. As for Yahoo’s latest assertion, the company, much like Google, Facebook and Twitter, is also asking its users to make sure that standard safety precautions like the “two-factor authentication” and a strong, unique password are being employed. Yahoo is also asking its users to make sure that emails are not being forwarded to third-party e-mail IDs automatically without the knowledge and/or consent of the account holder.