Attacks/Breaches
1/31/2014
09:40 AM
Connect Directly
RSS
E-Mail
100%
0%

Yahoo Mail Passwords: Act Now

Yahoo suffers hack attack, eyes third-party database and reused credentials as likely culprits, may enforce two-factor authentication to help users recover accounts.

9 Notorious Hackers Of 2013
9 Notorious Hackers Of 2013
(Click image for larger view and for slideshow.)

Yahoo said it reset passwords for an unspecified number of accounts after detecting an unfolding hack-attack campaign.

"Recently, we identified a coordinated effort to gain unauthorized access to Yahoo Mail accounts. Upon discovery, we took immediate action to protect our users, prompting them to reset passwords on impacted accounts," said Jay Rossiter, who's in charge of Yahoo's platforms and personalization products, in an "important security update for Yahoo Mail users" blog post. Some related notifications, however, have yet to be made.

To help users recover their accounts, Yahoo said it may force users to employ second sign-in verification -- its version of two-factor authentication -- which sends a six-digit code via SMS to a user's registered mobile phone number, provided they have one on file.

According to Litmus email analytics, Yahoo Mail comprises 5% of the world's email clients. In terms of market share -- across desktops, mobile clients, and webmail -- that makes Yahoo Mail the world's eighth most popular email client, trailing iOS Mail clients (38%), Outlook (14%), Android (12%), Apple Mail (8%), Gmail (6%), and Outlook.com (6%), but placing it ahead of Windows Live Mail (3%) and Windows Mail (2%).

[Can you protect your data on the road? Data Security: 4 Questions For Road Warriors.]

Yahoo said there's no evidence that the recent account-hijacking campaign resulted from attackers stealing credentials from Yahoo itself. Rather, whoever's behind the attack appears to have harvested the usernames and passwords from another site, meaning that Yahoo victims likely reused usernames and passwords across multiple sites. "Based on our current findings, the list of usernames and passwords that were used to execute the attack was likely collected from a third-party database compromise," Rossiter said. "Our ongoing investigation shows that malicious computer software used the list of usernames and passwords to access Yahoo Mail accounts. The information sought in the attack seems to be names and email addresses from the affected accounts' most recent sent emails."

He added: "We are working with federal law enforcement to find and prosecute the perpetrators responsible for this attack."

Who hijacks email accounts? Criminals may hack into accounts to harvest legitimate names and email addresses to target with phishing attacks or to run scams. One well-worn ruse involves an urgent appeal for funds sent under an email account owner's name to everyone in his or her address book. The message claims, for example, that the account owner was mugged in London and a hotel is holding his or her passport ransom until the bill is settled in cash. "Kindly help me send the money via Western Union Money Transfer to my name and hotel address below," the message reads.

Yahoo's account-takeover warning is thus a heads-up, not just for users to beware account takeovers, but for anyone who receives an email sent via Yahoo. "I'd... recommend being wary of any odd email messages from friends with Yahoo accounts that send you links or attachments in the next few days," said Chris Mohan at the Internet Storm Center.

How can Yahoo users better avoid account takeovers altogether? According to Yahoo's tips for safeguarding its accounts, the company recommends that all account users "add an alternate email address and mobile number to your account," which can be used to receive a password reset, in the event that the account has been compromised.

Also never reuse the same password across multiple sites. "If you do make the mistake of reusing passwords, you are running the risk of having your password compromised in one place -- perhaps via a phishing attack or keylogger -- and then hackers using it to unlock your other online accounts," said Graham Cluley, an independent security researcher, in a blog post.

Instead, use a password manager to generate strong passwords -- think long and random -- and then store those passwords. Modern password managers will keep your password database synchronized across PCs, mobile devices, and the cloud.

So many people still reuse passwords, however, that some companies, such as Facebook, have begun testing public dumps of usernames and passwords to see if they unlock any of their users' accounts. If so, the company can lock affected accounts and force users to pick a new password.

Beyond never reusing passwords, for optimum account security Yahoo users should also activate the aforementioned second sign-in verification, which Yahoo first introduced in 2011. Once activated, the two-factor verification system will send a six-digit code via SMS to the mobile phone number on file anytime it sees a login attempt -- with a valid username and password -- from a new system. Without that code, would-be attackers can't access the account.

For access to Yahoo email via any non-Yahoo application, meanwhile, the company also offers one-time codes. "Certain applications -- for instance, iOS Mail, Android Mail, and Outlook -- don't support Yahoo's second sign-in verification," Cluley said. "For those, you will need to generate one-time passwords, separate from the one you use on your Yahoo account."

Having a wealth of data is a good thing -- if you can make sense of it. Most companies are challenged with aggregating and analyzing the plethora of data being generated by their security applications and devices. This Dark Reading report, How Existing Security Data Can Help ID Potential Attacks, recommends how to effectively leverage security data in order to make informed decisions and spot areas of vulnerability. (Free registration required.)

Mathew Schwartz is a freelance writer, editor, and photographer, as well the InformationWeek information security reporter. View Full Bio

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
<<   <   Page 2 / 3   >   >>
Shane M. O'Neill
50%
50%
Shane M. O'Neill,
User Rank: Apprentice
1/31/2014 | 4:36:26 PM
Re: Password managers
I don't trust that a password manager can't be hacked. So I continue on in the living hell that is memorizing passwords and keeping them on a piece of paper hidden in my house. 
Laurianne
0%
100%
Laurianne,
User Rank: Apprentice
1/31/2014 | 3:47:40 PM
Re: Just one password?
Chris is right. Password fatigue is a big deal. And if you're thinking, who's still using Yahoo Mail, I saw someone using AOLmail on a plane the other day. No joke.
ChrisMurphy
50%
50%
ChrisMurphy,
User Rank: Apprentice
1/31/2014 | 3:30:27 PM
Re: Just one password?
Does anyone else get a bit numb to these warnings? I know I should change my password, I believe this is true, but ... 
Kristin Burnham
50%
50%
Kristin Burnham,
User Rank: Apprentice
1/31/2014 | 1:06:50 PM
Password managers
I'm sure most people are aware that they shouldn't be using the same password for multiple sites, but it's a cumbersome habit to break. The article recommends using a password manager. Which are your favorites?
Susan Fourtané
50%
50%
Susan Fourtané,
User Rank: Apprentice
1/31/2014 | 12:25:55 PM
Re: Just one password?
Drew, 

What makes you think that using just one password is better than a password manager? 

-Susan
Susan Fourtané
50%
50%
Susan Fourtané,
User Rank: Apprentice
1/31/2014 | 12:01:13 PM
Re: Just one password?
krass, 

Just wow! I should follow your example on password dedication. I think I have become a little lazy about passwords lately. 

-Susan
krassofnod
50%
50%
krassofnod,
User Rank: Apprentice
1/31/2014 | 11:38:39 AM
Re: Just one password?
honestly no sarcasm intended and thank you
Drew Conry-Murray
100%
0%
Drew Conry-Murray,
User Rank: Ninja
1/31/2014 | 11:31:54 AM
Re: Just one password?
I can't tell if you're being sarcastic. If you're not, I salute your dedication to password hygenie (and your memory!)
krassofnod
50%
50%
krassofnod,
User Rank: Apprentice
1/31/2014 | 11:22:28 AM
Re: Just one password?
yes which is why i don't use it either, I just memorize 10 different crazy difficult passwords and change them ever 2-3 months
Drew Conry-Murray
50%
50%
Drew Conry-Murray,
User Rank: Ninja
1/31/2014 | 11:12:10 AM
Re: Just one password?
But wouldn't that happen if a hacker hacked my password manager password too?
<<   <   Page 2 / 3   >   >>
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
Partner Perspectives
What's This?
In a digital world inundated with advanced security threats, Intel Security seeks to transform how we live and work to keep our information secure. Through hardware and software development, Intel Security delivers robust solutions that integrate security into every layer of every digital device. In combining the security expertise of McAfee with the innovation, performance, and trust of Intel, this vision becomes a reality.

As we rely on technology to enhance our everyday and business life, we must too consider the security of the intellectual property and confidential data that is housed on these devices. As we increase the number of devices we use, we increase the number of gateways and opportunity for security threats. Intel Security takes the “security connected” approach to ensure that every device is secure, and that all security solutions are seamlessly integrated.
Featured Writers
White Papers
Cartoon
Current Issue
Dark Reading's October Tech Digest
Fast data analysis can stymie attacks and strengthen enterprise security. Does your team have the data smarts?
Flash Poll
Video
Slideshows
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2014-7052
Published: 2014-10-19
The sahab-alkher.com (aka com.tapatalk.sahabalkhercomvb) application 2.4.9.7 for Android does not verify X.509 certificates from SSL servers, which allows man-in-the-middle attackers to spoof servers and obtain sensitive information via a crafted certificate.

CVE-2014-7056
Published: 2014-10-19
The Yeast Infection (aka com.wyeastinfectionapp) application 0.1 for Android does not verify X.509 certificates from SSL servers, which allows man-in-the-middle attackers to spoof servers and obtain sensitive information via a crafted certificate.

CVE-2014-7070
Published: 2014-10-19
The Air War Hero (aka com.dev.airwar) application 3.0 for Android does not verify X.509 certificates from SSL servers, which allows man-in-the-middle attackers to spoof servers and obtain sensitive information via a crafted certificate.

CVE-2014-7075
Published: 2014-10-19
The HAPPY (aka com.tw.knowhowdesign.sinfonghuei) application 2.0 for Android does not verify X.509 certificates from SSL servers, which allows man-in-the-middle attackers to spoof servers and obtain sensitive information via a crafted certificate.

CVE-2014-7079
Published: 2014-10-19
The Romeo and Juliet (aka jp.co.cybird.appli.android.rjs) application 1.0.6 for Android does not verify X.509 certificates from SSL servers, which allows man-in-the-middle attackers to spoof servers and obtain sensitive information via a crafted certificate.

Best of the Web
Dark Reading Radio
Archived Dark Reading Radio
Follow Dark Reading editors into the field as they talk with noted experts from the security world.