Yahoo (NASDAQ:YHOO) are the victims of the largest data breach in history. On Wednesday the company released a statement saying that in August 2013, data was stolen from over one billion user accounts. This adds salt to the wound that opened up last time Yahoo announced in September that 500 million users were hacked.
This has gone straight to the top; a senior Democratic senator, Mark Warner, announced today he intended to investigate the company. At the White House daily briefing, a spokesperson said they could not address the potential scope of vulnerable material from Yahoo’s most recently disclosed hack, adding that the FBI is investigating the breach. Due to the nature of cybercriminal activities, investigators will have to regulate their public announcements, so as not to disrupt detective work and alert attackers to their progress.
Yahoo’s woes are an illustration of just how important cybersecurity is. As a platform for information discovery, the tables have turned for the internet search giant, as they supply hackers with data. Yahoo know the drill now and have informed potentially affected users. Yahoo says it believes the two separate hacks were committed by different groups.
Verizon (NYSE:VZ) are apparently attempting to negotiate down the original terms of their agreement, made in July, to buy Yahoo’s digital operations for $4.8 billion. That, or they walk. The deal was supposed to close in the first quarter of 2017. Verizon is in the business of acquiring fallen greats but this is perhaps a step too far. Verizon shares do not seem to have been adversely affected in light of this news. Yahoo’s stock is down, understandably, plummeting overnight from $40.91 to lows of $38.41 on December 15, 2016.
The only upside of this situation is that hopefully other companies will seek to avoid Yahoo’s fate. Benchmark Electronics (NYSE:BHE) have partnered with cybersecurity company Proofpoint (NASDAQ:PFPT) in order to prevent malware and phishing attacks. This is vital so that their mandate of delivering technologies for aerospace and defense applications is not compromised.
In the spirit of keeping friends close and enemies closer, Verizon may instead turn its attention to Charter Communications (NASDAQ:CHTR), a cable television firm, who could otherwise provide competition for Verizon. As rumours of an acquisition swirl, Charter’s stock has risen, gaining 9.18 percent over the last five trading days. Investors should keep an eagle eye on M&A activity as it is sure to hot up.
Investors stand to gain from this extra injection of resources into cybersecurity as the sector is ensured continued growth. And maybe investors should change their passwords too – you never know.
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Securities Disclosure: I, Emma Harwood, hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article.