Ex-Yahoo and Equifax CEOs to testify before Senate over data breaches

Hearing will determine what more could have been done to prevent the hacks

Yahoo's former CEO, Marissa Mayer, and both the current and former CEOs of Equifax have been summoned to appear before the US Senate to testify on two massive data breaches that are thought to have affected over three billion people.

Mayer will appear before the Senate on 8 November alongside former Equifax CEO Richard Smith, who retired from the company in September following news of a massive data breach, and the company's interim CEO Paulino do Rego Barros Jr.

Frederick Hill, a US Senate Commerce Committee spokesperson, confirmed to Reuters that the three executives would be asked to testify, as authorities continue to assess whether the breaches could have been prevented, and whether there are likely to be any further revelations.

Yahoo revealed in October that all three billion customer accounts had been affected by a breach of its systems in 2013, tripling its original estimate from December last year. The breach, alongside a second attack in 2014 thought to have hit 500 million accounts, is considered the worst instance of data theft in industry history.

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News of the Yahoo's two data breaches wiped $350 million off the price of its assets during the takeover deal by Verizon before the latest revelation, which occurred after Verizon's purchase closed. Verizon paid $4.48 billion for Yahoo when the deal closed in June, although departing CEO Mayer is thought to have received over $200 million in severance pay and the sale of stocks and shares.

Equifax disclosed in September that it had also suffered a data breach, affecting 145.5 million of its US customers. However, subsequent updates have revealed that 15 million UK customers were also affected by the breach, including 700,000 accounts holding credit card details.

The UK's Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has since launched an investigation into the data breach, although the authority's chief executive Andrew Bailey said that Equifax had failed to notify the FCA, and he only became aware of the details through morning news reports.

Part of that investigation will look into Equifax's handling of the data breach, the full scope of which has been revised a number of times since it was first revealed. It also faced criticism over its customer help website, which was forced offline following concerns it had been infected with malware.

Equifax's use of the website 'equifaxsecurity2017.com' as its main support portal drew the ire of customers who thought it looked like a phishing website.

A letter addressed to Treasury Committee Chair Nicky Morgan MP also revealed that Equifax only started to notify affected customers via the post on 13 October, although a phased rollout means it won't be until 24 November that all affected customers are notified.

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Former CEO Rick Smith has already appeared before a US house committee to explain the breach, and it's likely the company will be asked to present similar explanations before a committee in the UK, although there are no specific demands in place.

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