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Yahoo discloses 2013 hack of 1B accounts: What it means for mobile marketing

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Yahoo announced last week that 1 billion accounts could have been compromised, the largest hack in history

Yahoo’s announcement that it was victim to the largest hack in history is not just an omen for the once-lucrative, now floundering company—according to industry experts, there are lessons to be heeded in digital marketing, as well.

And the circumstances of the hack are graver than previously believed: cybersecurity firms are now reporting that the stolen data, which totals at up to 1 billion compromised accounts, is now for sale on the deep web (data was previously sold to three parties for $300,000 each). Needless to say, the breach is cause for alarm for anyone who does business online in any capacity—that is to say, basically everyone.

“Yahoo is paying attention to the hack, and is being diligent in ensuring their consumers are protected by prompting a password change for emails that are suspect in the hack and also encouraging all Yahoo users to change their passwords especially if they haven't done so in a while,” said Marci Troutman, CEO of SiteMinis. “To further the protection, they are giving tips to make sure users that have the same passwords for other accounts as their yahoo password to change those as well. 

“Consumers live in a digital world, and because of this new age where information is being sent all over the world, they should be cautious to protect themselves by ensuring their passwords are changed several times a year, not used repeatedly across multiple accounts and have a secure measure,” she said. 

“Even with a hack such as this mobile marketing and all mobile use will tend to not be affected too heavily as consumers have readily adapted to mobile, and aren't inclined to take a step backward to slower methods of activity.”

Market impact
There is no denying that Yahoo’s breach—the second such breach the company has announced within the past three months, both coming in the midst of a now-questionable takeover by Verizon—is a monumental chapter in internet and tech history. Even so, experts are divided as to its far-reaching ramifications.

“Yahoo’s recent announcement on yet another hack many have any number of different impacts to industry and the practice of mobile marketing,” sais Michael Becker, managing partner at mCordis. “It may lead to increased consumer distrust in media and digital services, especially since we’re just learning about the hack nearly three years after the fact; unforeseen externalities on the individual, as individuals are shouldering the burden of these data breaches (for instance, with each data breach they are at greater risk of identity theft, financial and social risk, risks that are/were not recognized or compensated for at the time of receiving free media services); and the collapse of Verizon’s proposed acquisition, which would be unfortunate, as the industry needs to find a way to complete against the Facebook and Google Duopoly.”

“It also may lead to increased regulatory oversight, as regulations may increase their oversight of all digital services; increased adoption of ad blockers and privacy production tools, which will put further pressure on existing media and online commercial business models, thus further destabilizing the industry and the potential for neutral and unbiased news, information and commercial services; and the rise of the personal information economy and a new found respect for individual’s digital sovereignty—we may see increased adoption of personal information management services, services that enable individuals to control the collection and flow of their personal information and to establish and retain their digital sovereignty, which will initially be difficult for most business to handle since they are not used to dealing with the individual as a legitimate economic actor for data.

“However, in the long-term the affects for the world’s economies and society should be positive.”


Experts believe that the hack and the wide scope of its publication will cause a paradigm shift for the perception of cybersecurity among the masses: if they already don’t think of its role as something of paramount importance, they are sure to after this hack. 

“Consumers need to think of their devices as they would the front door of their home: there are valuables inside their digital world that need protecting, taking precaution and ‘locking your front door securely’ is important,” Ms. Troutman said. “Retailers should also regularly 'remind' consumers to check their security on their passwords periodically in order to avoid being the victim of a cyber crime.”

Data breach
Regardless, the breach will have widespread resonances in marketing and tech for years to come—it will be a scramble to determine best practices in its wake, and could be an opportunity for burgeoning entities in cybersecurity and product development to define their business models.


“Companies like Google and Facebook may very well face an existential crisis over the next five to ten years as people wake up and recognize that their online behavior and digital self has more economic value than their personal self,” Mr. Becker said. “Many people may recognize that the only true luxury good left, of any importance, will be their privacy, in which case companies will need to develop new services and business models that do not treat people as the product—the raw material that fuels their business model—but as customers that are worthy of an equal exchange of value within the commercial relationship. 

“I look forward to Google, Facebook and others joining forces and working out new frameworks, best practices, standards and policies as we all look to serve the connected individual, at scale, on the individual’s terms; to help shape future approach, like our The Connected Marketer is for marketing.”

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Rakin Azfar is editorial assistant on Mobile Marketer, New York. Reach him at rakin@napean.com.

 
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