Yahoo said Thursday a massive attack on its network in 2014 allowed hackers to steal data from half a billion users and may have been “state sponsored.”
Yahoo, which confirmed details of the breach months after reports of a major hack, said its investigation concluded that “certain user account information was stolen” and that the attack came from “what it believes is a state-sponsored actor.”
“Based on the ongoing investigation, Yahoo believes that information associated with at least 500 million user accounts was stolen,” said a statement by the US internet giant in what is likely the largest-ever breach for a single organization.
“Yahoo is working closely with law enforcement on this matter.”
Yahoo said the stolen information may have included names, email addresses, birth dates, and scrambled passwords, along with encrypted or unencrypted security questions and answers that could help hackers break into victims’ other online accounts.
While there is no official record of the largest breaches, many analysts have called the Myspace hack revealed earlier this year as the largest to date, with 360 million users affected.
– Ammunition for hackers –
Computer security analyst Graham Cluley said the stolen Yahoo data “could be useful ammunition for any hacker attempting to break into Yahoo accounts, or interested in exploring whether users might have used the same security questions/answers to protect themselves elsewhere on the web.”
He noted that while Yahoo said that it believes the hack was state-sponsored, the company provided no details regarding what makes them think that is the case.
“If I had to break the bad news that my company had been hacked… I would feel much happier saying that the attackers were ‘state-sponsored,’” rather than teen hackers, Cluley said in a blog post.
University of Notre Dame associate teaching professor and data security specialist Timothy Carone told AFP that the Yahoo hack fit the “big picture” when it comes to cyberattacks launched by spy agencies in Russia, China, North Korea or other countries.
“It just smacks of traditional trade craft,” Carone said.
“It is a broad sweep of getting information on people and building up profiles on those who may be of use to them.”
Carone described Russia, China and North Korea as the usual three suspects in state-sponsored hacks, but cautioned that allies are not above cyber snooping as well.
“People have to realize that anything they put out there is fair game,” he said, stressing a need for internet users to remain wary.
It appeared that looted Yahoo data did not include unprotected passwords or information associated with payments or bank accounts, the Silicon Valley company said.
Yahoo is asking affected users to change passwords, and recommending anyone who has not done so since 2014 to take the same action as a precaution.
Users of Yahoo online services were urged to review accounts for suspicious activity and change passwords and security question information used to log in anywhere else if it matched that at Yahoo.
“Online intrusions and thefts by state-sponsored actors have become increasingly common across the technology industry,” Yahoo said in a statement.
“Yahoo and other companies have launched programs to detect and notify users when a company strongly suspects that a state-sponsored actor has targeted an account.”
– Yahoo being bought –
Confirmation of the major cyber breach comes two months after Yahoo sealed a deal to sell its core internet business to telecom giant Verizon for $4.8 billion, ending a two-decade run as an independent company.
It was not immediately clear if the data breach could impact the closing of the deal or the price agreed by Verizon.
“Frankly, the timing couldn’t be worse for Yahoo,” Cluley said.
The telecom firm said it was reviewing the new information.
“Within the last two days, we were notified of Yahoo’s security incident,” Verizon said in a statement.
“We will evaluate as the investigation continues through the lens of overall Verizon interests, including consumers, customers, shareholders and related communities.”
Brent Crude Oil Extends Gain to $86.66 a Barrel Amid Tight Supply
Tight global oil supply pushed Brent crude oil, against which Nigeria oil is priced, to a multi-year high of $86.66 per barrel on Monday at 3:30 pm Nigerian time.
Oil price was lifted by rising fuel demand in the United States and tight global supply as economies recover from pandemic-induced slumps.
“The global energy supply crunch continues to show its teeth, as oil prices extend their upward march this week, a result of traders pricing in the ongoing rise in fuel demand – which amid limited supply response is depleting global stockpiles,” said Louise Dickson, senior oil markets analyst at Rystad Energy.
Goldman Sachs on the other hand is predicting a further increase in Brent crude oil to $90 a barrel, citing a strong rebound in global oil demand due to switching from gas to oil. This the bank estimated may contribute about 1 million barrels per day to global oil demand.
The investment bank said it expects oil demand to reach around 100 million barrels per day as consumption in Asia increases after the devastating effect of COVID-19.
“While not our base-case, such persistence would pose upside risk to our $90/bbl year-end Brent price forecast,” Goldman said in a research note dated Oct. 24.
Earlier this month, the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, Russia and their allies, known as OPEC+ agreed to continue increasing oil supply by 400,000 bpd a month until April 2022 despite calls for an increase in global oil supplies.
The decision bolstered the price of Brent crude oil above $84 per barrel and expected to push the price even further to $90 a barrel. Low global oil supply amid rising demand for crude oil will continue to support oil prices in the near term.
“Despite the recent power cuts and impacts to industrial activity in China, oil demand is likely instead supported by switching to diesel powered generators and diesel engines in LNG trucks, as well as by a ramp up in coal production,” Goldman Sachs stated.
U.S. and Ghana Inaugurate New $64.7 Million Energy Infrastructure Investment at Pokuase
U.S. Ambassador to Ghana Stephanie Sullivan joined the President of Ghana H.E. Nana Akufo-Addo and other Ghana government officials to formally inaugurate the Pokuase Bulk Supply Point (BSP) in Accra today. The U.S. Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) funded the $64.7 million (GH₵ 391.9 million) electrical infrastructure project under the Ghana Power Compact.
“The Pokuase Bulk Supply Point represents sustainable infrastructure investment by the United States with Ghana that will benefit hundreds of thousands of Ghanaians now and into the future,” remarked Ambassador Sullivan at the inaugural event. “It will help deliver more reliable power to the people, places, and businesses of Accra that drive increased economic activity benefitting families, businesses, and communities.”
This represents a flagship investment under the Millennium Challenge Corporation’s Ghana Power Compact. The Pokuase BSP will reduce outages in the power system, help stabilize voltages, and improve the quality and reliability of power supplied to the northern parts of the capital city of Accra. It will also reduce technical losses in the power transmission and distribution system, contributing to the financial viability of the Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG) and the Ghana Grid Company (GRIDCo) in the long term. The Pokuase BSP is now the largest-capacity BSP in Ghana at 580 megavolt amperes (MVA) and will directly benefit 350,000 utility customers.
The Government of Ghana implemented the project through the Millennium Development Authority (MiDA). MiDA formally handed over the new power substation to ECG and GRIDCo in today’s ceremony.
The Pokuase BSP is the first major construction project to be completed under the Ghana Power Compact. The $316 million compact is helping the Government of Ghana improve the power sector through investments that will provide more reliable and affordable electricity to Ghana’s businesses and households. The compact is also funding a BSP at Kasoa and two primary substations at Kanda and Legon, in addition to other power sector investments, energy efficiency programs, and women’s empowerment programs within the power sector. The compact program will officially close on June 6, 2022.
Oil Falls Slightly as China Steps in to Curb Rising Coal Prices
Global oil prices moderated slightly on Wednesday following the Chinese government’s decision to curb high coal prices and ensure coal mines function at maximum capacity.
Brent crude, against which Nigerian oil is priced, dropped to $83.98 per barrel at 11:00 am Nigerian time. While the U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude fell by 80 cents or 1 percent to $81.20 a barrel.
“China is planning to take steps to combat the steep rises in the domestic coal market … which could put considerable pressure on the coal price there and reverse the fuel switch to oil,” Commerzbank said.
Prices for Chinese coal and other commodities slumped in early trade, which in turn pulled oil down from an uptick earlier in the day.
China’s National Development and Reform Commission said on Tuesday it would bring coal prices back to a reasonable range and crack down on any irregularities that disturb market order or malicious speculation on thermal coal futures. read more
Oil markets in general remain supported on the back of a global coal and gas crunch, which has driven a switch to diesel and fuel oil for power generation.
But the market on Wednesday was also pressured by data from the American Petroleum Institute industry group which showed U.S. crude stocks rose by 3.3 million barrels for the week ended Oct. 15, according to market sources.
That was well above nine analysts’ forecasts for a rise of 1.9 million barrels in crude stocks, in a Reuters poll.
However, U.S. gasoline and distillate inventories, which include diesel, heating oil and jet fuel, fell much more than analysts had expected, pointing to strong demand.
Data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration is due later on Wednesday.
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