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Yahoo Punishes CEO, Top Lawyer for Data Breaches

March 2, 2017

Yahoo will not pay CEO Marissa Mayer her scheduled 2016 bonus, worth as much as $2 million, because of the massive breach her company suffered in 2014.

And Yahoo’s general counsel, Ronald Bell, resigned without severance pay for his department’s lackadaisical response to the security lapses.

Although Yahoo’s security team uncovered evidence that a hacker backed by an unnamed foreign government had pried into user accounts in 2014, executives “failed to act sufficiently” on that knowledge, according to the results of an internal investigation disclosed Wednesday. At that time, Yahoo only notified 26 people that their accounts had been breached.

That breach affected at least 500 million users whose email addresses, birth dates, answers to security questions, and other personal information may have been stolen. Three months later, Yahoo revealed it had uncovered a separate hack in 2013 affecting about 1 billion accounts, including some that were also hit in 2014.

Mayer, a former Google executive, said she would voluntarily turn down her annual bonus and equity grants for 2017 as a result of the incidents. Under the terms of Mayer’s 2012 hiring contract, she is entitled to a performance-based equity award of no less than $12 million every year. Mayer said she wants the board to distribute her annual bonus to Yahoo’s entire workforce of 8,500 employees. The board did not say if it would do so.

Yahoo’s unprecedented data thefts had threatened to derail the sale of its Internet business to Verizon. Instead, Verizon cut $350 million from the purchase price, lowering the value of the deal to about $4.48 billion in cash. The deal is expected to close in the second quarter of 2017.

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