Yahoo Nation: Billions Of Reasons To Worry

The Yahoo email mess just keeps getting worse. Among the latest news tidbits:

  • The Yahoo breach could affect “a majority of users within the connected world,” the Hill asserts. “At one point, almost everyone on the internet had a Yahoo account.” 
  • Marni Walden, who played a role in Verizon’s acquisition of Yahoo, is stepping down as Verizon EVP, taking the hit for the whole company, some say.
  • Judge Lucy Koh postponed the submission deadline in a class action suit against Yahoo — to give the parties time to absorb the fact that all 3 million accounts were breached, according to JP Supra.  
  • Given that number, the case could “number in the hundreds of millions, and possibly in excess of a billion individuals, making it possibly the largest plaintiff class ever,” JD Supra writes.
  • Finally, as reported yesterday, Gregg County in Texas is refusing to accept emails from Yahoo accounts.



All this is happening amidst a growing school of opinion that Verizon/Yahoo is to blame for its own problems.

Start with Verizon. Critics say it should never have purchased Yahoo.

“They got all caught up in their big dreams,” writes analyst Jeff Kagan of Verizon's plans to pull in customers. “However, they didn’t want to take the time to build that business over time.”

Then there are the security breaches, which some sources say are unforgivable.

“Yahoo, pre-acquisition, had a very poor history maintaining up-to-date security measures, which was revealed in the past decade,” Joshua Morales writes on IT Security Central. He continues: “The hackers who gained access to all of Yahoo's managed email accounts were able to access names, security questions, passwords, and most importantly legitimate identities.”

What can email marketers do?

“The challenge with the Yahoo breach is that we don't yet know what the consumers' reaction will be,” says Ryan Phelan, VP of marketing insights at Adestra.“Consumers may choose to stay or migrate to another provider, but the key for marketers is to look at key engagement stats (open, click, purchase, etc.) of your file.”

Phelan adds: “Some marketers may want to proactively set up migration pages and offer them to Yahoo account holders so that if they do move, you can migrate subscription instead of risking losing that valuable customer history."

Of course, it's not yet clear how consumers will react. Some pundits are urging them to move their accounts from Yahoo to another service, but others disagree. 

“Essentially Yahoo accounts are recycled and offered to other people instead of deactivated,” writes It Security Central. “This exposed many Yahoo accounts to compromise by simply allowing a password reset or claim of a Yahoo ID.”

IT Security Central continues: “ If a user tries to delete their account, it will remain inactive for 90 days instead. This 90 days is a window of opportunity for anyone to claim the account and keep it in a recycle loop."

Roger Barnette, CEO of MessageGears, contends that "consumers are tired of hearing about data breaches and will likely start being even more selective about what they share and with what companies they share it. Trustworthiness and being good stewards of data will be important for brands. So many people were touched with Equifax and Yahoo's breaches and, in the case of Equifax, people didn't have much of a choice."

Barnette adds, "Businesses will need to improve not only security systems but figure out ways to handle data in more responsible ways, including reducing the ways (or frequency) that their data is shared, externally."

He concludes that "a big migration from Yahoo mail would be a nuisance for marketers but can be managed and not be detrimental to their email programs.

Meanwhile, those inclined to give Yahoo the benefit of the doubt may say, as It Security Central does, that a large organization can “easily miss critical vulnerabilities.”

But we bet that fewer people are willing to forgive.

Why would they? Some companies sound like Chico Marx, who once asked, “Who are you gonna believe, me or your own eyes?”

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