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In this research we'll be revisiting the USB port – this time in attempts to intercept user authentication data on the system that a microcomputer is connected to.

As we discovered, this type of attack successfully allows an intruder to retrieve user authentication data – even when the targeted system is locked.
By Bharath Vasudevan, Product Manager, HPE Software-defined and Cloud Group As summer nears, many are getting ready to take summer vacations. While the idea of a vacation promises relaxation, getting ready can be hectic. One way to make sure everyth...
Often, virus writers don't even bother to run encryption or mask their communications. However, you do get the occasional off-the-wall approaches that don't fall into either of the categories.

Take, for instance, the case of a Trojan that Kaspersky Lab researchers discovered in mid-March and which establishes a DNS tunnel for communication with the C&C server.
It’s $10 cheaper than Fitbit’s Charge 2.
Google says it can separate man from machine without any tricky tests or checkboxes.
Making it harder for kids to go voice-shopping with their parents' money.

Steganos Privacy Suite 18

If a website's massive data breach compromises your privacy, there's not much you can do. It's out of your hands. But that doesn't mean you're completely helpless. There's plenty you can do to protect your own privacy, things like encrypting your files, and protecting your passwords. Steganos Privacy Suite 18 brings together a variety of useful privacy-related tools. However, the quality of the tools varies, and the suite lacks some useful features found in competing products.

With most antivirus tools, security suites, and password managers, you pay a yearly subscription fee. That's not the case with Steganos. For $59.95 you can install it on up to five PCs and use it for as long as you like. The only thing you don't get is a free update to the next version.

Earlier editions of this product included VPN protection, but the current product lineup makes Steganos Online Shield VPN a separate product. As I write this, Steganos is running a promotion that gives you the VPN for free when you purchase the suite. Note, though, that PCMag's Max Eddy gave this VP service just two out of five stars.

Getting Started with Steganos

After the quick, simple installation Steganos displays its main window. At the left is a three-by-three matrix of icons representing the suite's features: Safe, Portable Safe, Crypt & Hide, Password Manager, Private Favorites, E-Mail Encryption. Shredder, Trace Destructor, and Privacy. The suite is effectively a launch pad for these utilities.

The right-hand portion of the main window is a kind of security progress report. Just by installing the suite, you start with a 20 percent security level. Creating an encrypted safe for storing sensitive files gets you another 20 percent, and setting up the password manager raises it by another 20. Using the password manager's bonus ability to store private favorites adds 20 percent more. Configuring the Privacy components takes you to 100 percent. I like the way this simple report encourages full use of the product's features.

Standalone Products

Several components of the Steganos Privacy Suite are available as standalone products. I'll summarize my findings regarding those products. To get full details, please click the links to read my reviews.

Steganos Safe 18 lets you create any number of safes, which are encrypted storage containers for your sensitive files. You can create safes on your PC, on portable devices, or in your cloud storage accounts. When a safe is open, you use it exactly like any disk drive. When it's shut, its contents are completely inaccessible.

Steganos Safe is extremely easy to use, more so than most container-based encryption products. In addition, it offers some seriously sneaky techniques for hiding the very existence of your safes from prying eyes. For example, you can hide a fairly small safe inside an audio, video, or executable file. And the Safe in a Safe feature lets you dedicate a percentage of a visible safe for use as a discrete, invisible storage location, with its own separate password.

Along with the encryption tool, you also get Steganos Shredder, a secure deletion shredder utility. You can securely delete any file or folder by selecting Destroy from the right-click menu. With this tool you can also shred all of the free space on disk, effectively applying secure deletion to already-deleted files. It can also wipe any disk drive (except the active Windows drive) so thoroughly that a format is required when it's done.

Steganos Password Manager 18 handles the basic tasks of password capture and replay, and includes a password generator. Unlike most competing products, it doesn't directly handle syncing your passwords between devices; if you want syncing, you must connect to your existing cloud storage. You also get a limited ability to fill Web forms with personal data.

In testing, I couldn't get the password manager's Firefox extension to load. Also, some features worked in Chrome but not in Internet Explorer. If you get this password manager as part of the Steganos suite, you might as well use it. But if you're shopping for a standalone password manager, there are much better choices.

The two standalone Steganos products I've reviewed account for five of the suite's nine component icons. Password Manager and Private Favorites both correspond to Steganos Password Manager. Safe and Portable Safe are parts of Steganos Safe, as is Shredder. For the remainder of this review I'll focus on the rest of the privacy components.

Encrypt and Hide

The name Steganos comes from the term steganography, which is not the same as encryption. The aim of encryption is to ensure that others can't decipher your secrets. The aim of steganography is to conceal the fact that you have secrets. When you process a file through the suite's Crypt & Hide component and then shred the original, a hacker or snoop won't find any evidence that the sensitive data exists.

I don't know precisely how this tool processes files—it's not in the company's interest to reveal such information. But here's a simple example of how steganography could work to hide a file inside an image. First, picture that the file contains a list of numbers representing the exact color of each pixel in the image. Now round all those numbers so they're even. That tiny change doesn't make a visible difference in the image. Convert your secret file into a stream of bits, and step through the list of the image's pixels, leaving the color number unchanged for zero bits and making it odd for one bits. You've hidden the file in a way that's completely recoverable, but the image doesn't look appreciably different.

Steganos can use BMP, WAV, or JPG files as carriers for encrypted data. The help system advises using a carrier file at least 20 times the size of the encrypted data. You can also use it to create encrypted archives without hiding them, much as you'd do with a ZIP archive utility. Note, though, that the archives created by Steganos use the proprietary EDF format, not the standard ZIP format.

To create a simple encrypted archive, drag files and folders onto the Crypt & Hide dialog, or browse to locate the desired items. You can also enter a text description of the contents. Clicking Save lets you define the name and location for the resulting EDF file. The password entry dialog is the same as that used by Steganos Safe and Steganos Password Manager. It rates password strength as you type, with the option to use a virtual keyboard, or to define the password by clicking a sequence of pictures.

To create an encrypted file and also hide it, follow precisely the same procedure, but click the Hide button instead of the Save button, and choose a BMP, WAV, or JPG file as carrier. That's it. Your secret files are hidden within the chosen carrier. Don't believe it? Launch Crypt & Hide again, choose Open, and select your carrier. Once you enter the password, your files are back. Of course you must use the shredder to destroy the originals.

TraceDestructor

As you use your computer and browse the Web, you leave behind traces of what you've been doing. Sure, you hid your secret plans using Crypt & Hide, but if MyWorldTakeover still shows up in the list of recent documents, you're busted. In a similar way, your browsing history may reveal way too much about what you've been researching. That's where TraceDestructor comes in.

TraceDestructor clears various types of browsing traces from Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer, and Microsoft Edge. For Edge, it just clears cookies and cached files. For the others, it can also wipe out such things as history, autocomplete data, and passwords. It can also empty the Recycle Bin and eliminate Windows temporary files, recently used file lists, and other traces.

Cleaning up traces doesn't take long. When the process has finished, Steganos advises you to log off and on again, for full cleanup. Simple!

Privacy Settings

Clicking the Privacy icon brings up a simple settings dialog with four on/off switches, all off by default. I couldn't test Webcam protection, because my virtual machine test systems simply don't have webcams. In addition, every time I opened Privacy Settings I got a notification from Windows that the webcam privacy component crashed.

Webcam protection does nothing but deactivate your webcam, so you must turn that protection off if you want to use the cam for videoconferencing. A similar feature in ESET Internet Security 10 lets you disable the webcam in general but enable specific programs. That would prevent webcam spying while still letting you Skype, for example.

Kaspersky Total Security also offers webcam blocking for all but permitted programs. It extends similar protection to the microphone, to head off the possibility of a snoop listening in on your activities.

Internet advertisers work hard to profile your personal surfing habits, so they can target ads based on your interests. If you've ever bought (or looked at) a product on one site and then seen an ad for that product on a different site, you've seen this process in action. You can set your browser to send a Do Not Track header with each request, but sites aren't compelled to obey this header. The Prevent tracking option in Steganos filters out tracking activity before it reaches the browser.

Some trackers skip the usual techniques for tying together all data about your online activity, instead trying to create a fingerprint of your devices and activity, including precise data about the browsers you use. Steganos lets you replace your actual browser details with a generic fake set, to anonymize your browser type. Finally, you can choose to block advertisements altogether. The Block ads, Prevent tracking, and Anonymize browse type settings are simple on/off switches.

In testing, these three privacy elements initially didn't work. I confirmed this using various online tests. I reinstalled the product, to no avail. I installed it on a physical system, thinking that it might be incompatible with running in a virtual machine. Here, too, the privacy elements just didn't work. Tech support determined this was due to the absence of a proxy process that provides all three types of filtering.

Going back and forth with tech support, I determined that the installer failed to create a necessary configuration file. Even after I manually copied the config file that tech support supplied, it did not launch the proxy process. After more back and forth, I got the proxy running on both systems. It seemed to be running smoothly on the physical system, but its output on the virtual system contained many error messages. That being the case, I focused on the physical system.

There's no way to tell if the Prevent tracking feature is working, but Anonymize browser type should change the user agent string that your browser sends to every website. It did not do so. And although the filter's output log contained tons of ad blocking reports, the ads visibly weren't blocked.

The worst thing about this component is that even when its proxy failed to load, it didn't display any kind of error message. The privacy features work silently, so you'd have no idea that they weren't functioning, unless you noticed its failure to block ads.

There is one icon I haven't covered, E-Mail Encryption. I've skipped this one for several reasons. First, it is not a Steganos product; it's from another company, MyNigma. Second, on a PC it only functions as an Outlook plug-in, and my test systems don't have Outlook. Third, it only works to encrypt email between other users of MyNigma, so it's not useful for general-purpose encrypted communication.

Another Take on Privacy

Abine Blur is another suite of tools aimed at protecting your privacy. Its active Do Not Track component goes way beyond just sending the DNT header, which websites can ignore. Furthermore, unlike Steganos, it makes its activity visible. It includes a simple password manager, but goes beyond Steganos by offering a safety report that flags weak and duplicate passwords.

Blur protects your privacy by masking email accounts, credit cards, and (on a smartphone) phone numbers. Suppose you make a purchase from a merchant using a masked email account, and a masked credit card. Mail from the merchant reaches your inbox, but you can delete the masked account if it starts getting spam. And a merchant who doesn't have your real credit card number can't sell the card data or overcharge you. Read my review for a full explanation.

Blur doesn't block ads, and it doesn't include file encryption, but all of its components are directly aimed at protecting your privacy. Even if you do install the Steganos suite, consider trying Blur's free edition for additional protection. Note that if you do opt for a $39-per-year premium subscription, you can use Blur on all your devices.

Do You Already Have It?

You may also find that you've already got significant privacy protection courtesy of your security suite. For example, Kaspersky and AVG Internet Security include an active Do Not Track system, like what Blur offers, and Kaspersky can block banner ads. Webcam protection in Kaspersky and ESET goes farther than what you get with Steganos.

As for encrypted storage, the core of Steganos Privacy Suite, you can find a similar feature in many suites, among them McAfee LiveSafe, Bitdefender, Kaspersky, and Trend Micro. Admittedly, none of the suites build out this feature into the comprehensive encryption system that is Steganos Safe.

As for password management, it's becoming a common bonus feature in larger suites. Webroot includes a version based on award-winning LastPass, and McAfee comes with all the multi-factor authentication glory of True Key. Symantec Norton Security Premium, Trend Micro, ESET, Kaspersky, and Bitdefender are among the other suites with a password manager built right in.

Before you purchase a set of privacy tools, check to see what you already have right in your existing security suite.

A Mixed Bag

Steganos Safe is easier to use than other container-based encryption programs, and has some nifty features to both encrypt and hide your files. However, Steganos Password Manager lacks advanced features, and some of its features didn't work in testing. The Crypt & Hide component is a kick, as it truly hides your secrets, leaving no trace. But the browser-related privacy filters just didn't work in testing. Steganos Privacy Suite is a mixed bag, for sure.

There aren't many utilities specifically devoted to privacy. Abine Blur Premium remains our Editors' Choice in this interesting field. I look forward to seeing more competition in the specific area of privacy protection.

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DailyMotion, a popular video sharing website, said Tuesday it recently suffered an “external security problem” resulting in the compromise of an unspecified number of its users’ data. LeakedSource.com, a repository of breached data, added DailyMotion to its list of “Hacked Sites” on Monday.

The site, which operates a subscription service of sorts for leaked data, claims to have information on 87,610,750 users of the video sharing site.

DailyMotion would not confirm how many accounts had been compromised. The stolen data includes users’ email addresses, usernames and encrypted passwords.

The passwords are reportedly encrypted with the bcrypt hashing function, with 10 rounds of rekeying; something that should theoretically make them more difficult to decipher. While that doesn’t make the passwords uncrackable, it does means that doing so could be an arduous process. For security reasons, we advise you to reset your password: https://t.co/DVTGoTB46o — Dailymotion (@DailymotionUSA) December 6, 2016 In a blog post on Tuesday the Paris-based company DailyMotion urged its users to reset their password.

The company called on partners who integrate the video service into their own apps or platforms with OAuth 2.0 authentication to enforce a password reset as well. “The security of your account is very important to us and we take all necessary steps to identify any shortcomings and addressed.

Therefore, as a precaution, we urge all our partners and users to reset now their passwords,” the post reads. As is the case with most early investigations into breaches, it’s unclear exactly how – and when – the breach occurred.
Some reports claim the hack stems from an incident in October. Other reports claim about 20 percent of the leaked usernames, about 18 million, have a password attached. The company did not immediately return requests for comment on Tuesday. DailyMotion receives a fraction of the traffic YouTube gets but is still viewed as as a competitor, at least in the video streaming world.
Vivendi, a French media conglomerate, purchased a 90 percent stake in the 11-year-old company last year. Orange, a French telecommunication firm, owns the other 10 percent. The breach is the latest in a long line of incidents this year.
It was reported last month that 400 million users of Adult FriendFinder, Penthouse.com, and Stripshow.com had data stolen in October. Old and in many instances out of date credentials from social networks such as LinkedIn, Twitter, Myspace, and Tumblr have also found their way onto LeakedSource’s database this year as well. None of those breaches made headlines quite like Yahoo’s admission in September that 500 million customer records were stolen from its network in 2014.
Verizon, who agreed to buy Yahoo’s web assets for $4.83 billion back in July, is still ironing out the details around the sale in wake of the breach.
Brit/Belgian research team decipher signals and devise wounding wireless attacks A global research team has hacked 10 different types of implantable medical devices and pacemakers finding exploits that could allow wireless remote attackers to kill victims. Eduard Marin and Dave Singelée, researchers with KU Leuven University, Belgium, began examining the pacemakers under black box testing conditions in which they had no prior knowledge or special access to the devices, and used commercial off-the-shelf equipment to break the proprietary communications protocols. From the position of blind attackers the pair managed to hack pacemakers from up to five metres away gaining the ability to deliver fatal shocks and turn of life-saving treatment. The wireless attacks could also breach patient privacy, reading device information disclosing location history, treatments, and current state of health. Singelée told The Register the pair has probed implantable medical device and pacemakers, along with insulin pumps and neurostimulators in a bid to improve security understanding and develop lightweight countermeasures. "So we wanted to see if these wireless attacks would be possible on these newer types of pacemakers, as this would show that there are still security problems almost 10 years after the initial security flaws have been discovered, and because the impact of breaking the long-range wireless communication channel would be much larger as adversaries can be further away from their victim," Singelée says. "We deliberately followed a black-box approach mimicking a less-skilled adversary that has no prior knowledge about the specification of the system. "Using this black-box approach we just listened to the wireless communication channel and reverse-engineered the proprietary communication protocol. And once we knew all the zeros and ones in the message and their meaning, we could impersonate genuine readers and perform replay attacks etcetera." Laboratory setup: A USRP (left) and DAQ with antennas below. Their work is detailed in the On the (in)security of the Latest Generation Implantable Cardiac Defibrillators and How to Secure Them [PDF] authored by Marin and Singelée, KU Leven colleague Bart Preneel, Flavio D. Garcia and Tom Chothia of the University of Birmingham, and cardiologist Rik Willems of University Hospital Gasthuisberg. The team describes in limited detail to protect patients how the wireless communications used to maintain the implantable medical devices can be breached. "Adversaries may eavesdrop the wireless channel to learn sensitive patient information, or even worse, send malicious messages to the implantable medical devices. The consequences of these attacks can be fatal for patients as these messages can contain commands to deliver a shock or to disable a therapy." No physical access to the devices is required to pull off the attacks. The researchers say attackers could install beacons in strategic locations such as train stations and hospitals to infer patient movements, revealing frequented locations, and to infer patient treatment. Attackers could trigger a reprogramming session in order to grab that data. Programming flaws relating to the devices' standby energy saving mode allow denial of service attacks to be performed which will keep units in battery-draining alive states through continuous broadcasting of messages over long-range wireless. This could "drastically reduce" the units' battery life, the team says. The research, like all medical device hacking, has scope limitations that mean mass targeting of pacemakers is not immediately possible. Nor can attacks be extended to many metres. Another happy fact: the gear required isn't cheap. National Instruments sells its URSP-2920 for US$3670 (£2930, A$4972) and USB-6353 for US$2886 (£2724, A$3910). The team tells The Register they have been informed that the compromised vendor has issued a patch, but further details are not known. Medical devices' wireless could be jammed as a stop-gap measure, while the addition of shutdown commands to the devices would best serve long-term fix, as would the inclusion of standard symmetric key authentication. "We want to emphasise that reverse engineering was possible by only using a black-box approach," the team says. "Our results demonstrated that security-by-obscurity is a dangerous design approach that often conceals negligent designs." Medical device hacking has picked up pace in recent years, with much work made through the I Am The Calvary research and activist group. ® Sponsored: Customer Identity and Access Management
The very nature of wireless Wi-Fi networks means that hackers or criminals simply need to be located near an access point in order to eavesdrop and intercept network traffic. Poorly configured access point encryption or services that allow data to be sent without any encryption pose a serious threat to user data. Confidential data can be protected by encrypting traffic at wireless access points.
In fact, this method of protection is now considered essential for all Wi-Fi networks.

But what actually happens in practice? Is traffic always encrypted on public Wi-Fi networks? How does the situation differ from country to country? Kaspersky Security Network statistics can answer all these questions. We compared the situation with Wi-Fi traffic encryption in different countries using data from our threat database. We counted the number of reliable and unreliable networks in each country that has more than 10 thousand access points known to us (this obviously excludes Antarctica and other regions where there is not enough data to draw any conclusions). Security of Wireless Networks Using statistics from Kaspersky Security Network (KSN), we analyzed data from across the world for almost 32 million Wi-Fi hotspots accessed by the wireless adapters of KSN users. Encryption type used in public Wi-Fi hotspots across the world Approximately 24.7% of Wi-Fi hotspots in the world do not use any encryption at all.

This basically means that by using an antenna capable of sending and receiving data at 2.4 GHz, any individual located near an access point can easily intercept and store all user traffic and then browse it for data they are interested in.

Fortunately, modern online banking systems and messengers do not transfer unencrypted data.

But this is the only thing that prevents users of Wi-Fi networks with unencrypted traffic from revealing their passwords and other essential data when using an unsecure access point. The WEP (Wired Equivalent Privacy) protocol for encryption of data transferred over Wi-Fi is used by approximately 3.1% of all analyzed access points.

The protocol was the first to be created, quite a long time ago, and is now completely unreliable – it would take hackers just a few minutes to crack it.

From a data security point of view, using WEP is not much different from using open networks.

This protocol is being relegated to oblivion everywhere, but as we see from the chart above, it can still be found in use. Around three-quarters of all access points use encryption based on the Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPA) protocol family.

The protocols from this family are currently the most secure.

The effort required to hack WPA depends on its settings, including the complexity of the password set by the hotspot owner.
It is worth noting that an attempt to decipher traffic from “personal” (WPA-Personal, PSK authentication) wireless networks (with public access points) can be made by intercepting the handshakes between the access point and the device at the beginning of the session. “Corporate” versions are protected from this sort of interception because they use internal company authorization. When it comes to “personal” WPA2 attacks, the situation is similar to that of WPA and mostly depends on the strength of the password set by the hotspot owner. It is only fair to note that during a standard attack on a Wi-Fi access point, a personal computer can generate from 50 to 300 keys per second on average.
If the encryption key is strong, it will take years to hack it.
Still, no one can guarantee that the key used at a cafe will be secure and that the attacker will have nothing but a PC at their disposal. Overall, it can be said that today’s WPA/WPA2 “non-enterprise” versions are reasonably, but not absolutely, secure.
In particular, they allow brute-force and dictionary attacks.

There are ready-to-use publicly available tools (aircrack-ng and similar software) for performing such attacks, as well as a large number of manuals. Geography of Unsecured Wi-Fi Access Points Share of Wi-Fi hotspots that use unreliable WEP or do not encrypt data (by country) We would like to note that the five countries with the highest proportion of unsecured connections include Korea (47.9% of unsecured Wi-Fi access points), while France (40.14%) and the US (39.31%) rate 9th and 12th respectively in the list. Germany appears to be the most secure among Western European countries, with 84.91% of access points secured by WPA/WPA2 protocol encryption. Share of Wi-Fi hotspots that use WPA/WPA2 (by country) However, even when using an encrypted connection, you should not completely rely upon this security measure.

There are several scenarios that could compromise even well-encrypted network traffic.

These include fake access points with names that duplicate or mimic real ones (for example, TrainStation_Free or TrainStation Free) and compromised routers forwarding traffic without encryption to attackers (malware tools that infect such devices are already “in the wild”).

At any rate, taking care of your own security is a good idea. Recommendations for Users There are several simple rules that help protect personal data when using open Wi-Fi networks in cafes, hotels, airports, and other public places. Do not trust networks that are not password-protected. Even if a network requests a password, you should remain vigilant. Fraudsters can find out the network password at a coffee shop, for example, and then create a fake connection with the same password.

This allows them to easily steal personal user data. You should only trust network names and passwords given to you by employees of the establishment. To maximize your protection, turn off your Wi-Fi connection whenever you are not using it.

This will also save your battery life. We recommend disabling automatic connection to existing Wi-Fi networks too. If you are not 100% sure the wireless network you are using is secure, but you still need to connect to the internet, try to limit yourself to basic user actions such as searching for information. You should refrain from entering your login details for social networks or mail services, and definitely not perform any online banking operations or enter your bank card details anywhere. To avoid being a target for cybercriminals, you should enable the “Always use a secure connection” (HTTPS) option in your device settings.
It is recommended to enable this option when visiting any websites you think may lack the necessary protection. If possible, connect via a Virtual Private Network (VPN). With a VPN, encrypted traffic is transmitted over a protected tunnel, meaning criminals won’t be able to read your data, even if they gain access to them. And, of course, you should use dedicated security solutions.

They inform users about any potential dangers when connecting to a suspicious Wi-Fi network and prevent any passwords or other confidential data from being compromised if there is a threat. One example of a dedicated solution is the Secure Connection tool included in the latest versions of Kaspersky Internet Security and Kaspersky Total Security.

This module protects users connected to Wi-Fi networks by providing a secure encrypted connection channel.
Secure Connection can be launched manually or, depending on the settings, activated automatically when connecting to public Wi-Fi networks, when navigating to online banking and payment systems or online stores, and when communicating online (mail services, social networks, etc.).
The News Desk is visited by George Karidis of CompuCom and Rodel Alejo from Intel to discuss cloud technology services that enable customers to curate best-of-breed offerings and aggregate security data across multiple clients.

CompuCom also announced...
The latest Yahoo breach could be one of the largest of all time. More than 500 million user accounts were affected. After nearly two months of speculation, Yahoo at 2:28 p.m.

ET on Sept. 22 confirmed what many had suspected—the company was the victim of a massive data breach.The breach, which was initially alleged to affect 200 million accounts, in fact, impacted at least 500 million user accounts, according to Yahoo.Additionally, the breach was first reported to have occurred in 2012, but Yahoo is now confirming that the breach actually happened in 2014. On Aug. 1, 2016, a hacker known as Peace first alleged that he had 200 million Yahoo user accounts gained from a breach and he was selling them for three Bitcoins, which is worth approximately $1,900.At the time, Yahoo would only publicly state that it was investigating the claim.

The initial phase of the investigation has now been completed. "A recent investigation by Yahoo Inc. has confirmed that a copy of certain user account information was stolen from the company's network in late 2014 by what it believes is a state-sponsored actor," Yahoo's press release states. The stolen user account information includes names, email addresses, telephone numbers, dates of birth, passwords and account security questions. Yahoo stated that the passwords were hashed with the bcrypt algorithm.

Bcrypt is a secure hashing algorithm, which aims to scramble passwords to make it more difficult for an attacker to be able to decipher."The ongoing investigation suggests that stolen information did not include unprotected passwords, payment card data, or bank account information; payment card data and bank account information are not stored in the system that the investigation has found to be affected," Yahoo stated in an FAQ on the breach.Yahoo is also claiming that the state-sponsored attacker behind the breach is not still in the company's network.

The company is working with law enforcement to track down the perpetrators of the breach.Yahoo recommends that users who haven't changed their account passwords since 2014 do so immediately.

The company is also in the process of notifying all the impacted users and has already taken several proactive steps to minimize risk.

Among the steps taken is that security questions and answers used for password resets have been invalidated.Yahoo is also warning users about potential phishing risks related to the breach and advising users not to click on links in emails."If the email you received about this issue prompts you to click on a link, download an attachment, or asks you for information, the email was not sent by Yahoo and may be an attempt to steal your personal information," Yahoo's FAQ states.With the number of affected user accounts at more than 500 million, the Yahoo breach now stands alone as one of the largest ever confirmed. LinkedIn this year confirmed that it was the victim of a 2012 breach that affected 100 million users.Yahoo actually had previously confirmed that it was also the victim of a breach in 2012 as a result of a SQL injection attack.

That attack, however, only affected 450,000 Yahoo users.Confirmation of the massive breach comes at a time of transition for Yahoo as the company is currently being acquired by Verizon for $4.38 billion.
It's unclear what, if any, impact the massive breach disclosure by Yahoo will have on the pending acquisition.Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at eWEEK and InternetNews.com.

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@TechJournalist.