One of the biggest IT stories of 2016, certainly in terms of sheer round numbers, is the multiple reports of user data stolen from search, free-mail, and all-around everything provider Yahoo! In the beginning (on Sept. 26), Yahoo! announced a breach that had resulted in the theft of data connected to more than 500 million Yahoo! user accounts.
Nobody puts Baby in a corner, however, and it would seem that you can't draw a box around Yahoo! Because just as everyone was beginning to think, "Eh, it probably wasn't all important" — about an act of theft affecting at least a half-billion individuals, no less — Yahoo! decided, "To heck with it! Double or nothing!"
On Dec. 14, the Yahoo! braintrust said, in essence, "Actually, if you think that first breach was impressive, get a load of this," announcing a separate, earlier incident that had compromised possibly as many as 1 billion user accounts. Yup, that's billion with a B.
That's a pretty impressive instance of getting away undetected, given that the first breach to be discovered was reported approximately two full years after the fact. (The second incident is believed to have occurred in 2013.) It's been all quiet on the Western Front, so to speak, since Dec. 14, but who knows? Maybe we're about to be told about a breach from 2010 involving every Yahoo! account ever created.
Since we were just grinding the gears of our 2016 Salary Survey apparatus into motion back when the initial report appeared (on Sept. 26, don't forget), we decided to make that one of the things to ask about in the Not-S0-Serious chaser that we put at the end of all of our surveys. What do certified IT professionals have to say about all of this?
We looked at the infamous incident from every angle — OK, from as many angles as we could think of in 10 or 15 minutes — and drew up a list of the from-the-hip reactions likely to take shape in people's heads. Then we asked survey respondents which of our preformulated responses best reflected their own thoughts. Here what we learned:
Look, this sort of thing is a real danger. People need to educate themselves about cybersecurity and be proactive. — 48 percent
Yahoo! had 500 million users?! — 16.9 percent
Everybody calm down and change your e-mail password. — 16.8 percent
This is why I switched to Gmail. — 6 percent
Anyone who uses free online e-mail is holding a revolver and watching the chamber spin. — 5.8 percent
Nothing is safe. It's time to unplug all the networks and go back to relaying information by dot matrix printouts like on Battlestar Galactica. — 5.3 percent
Sweet! I'm going to sue big and get a fat settlement. Oh, wait, it's Yahoo! — 0.8 percent
Sweet! I'm going to sue big and get a fat settlement. Uh ... sure I read the Terms of Service. Why do you ask? — 0.3 percent
Original question: My reaction to the theft of data from as many as 500 million Yahoo! accounts is ...