Will Massive Data Breaches Lead Verizon To Dump Yahoo?

Image courtesy of Mike Mozart

While Yahoo has been grabbing headlines lately for its most recent data breach — one that affected more than one billion users — what about that other big story involving Yahoo, the one where Verizon Communications was preparing to buy the company’s internet business?

It’ll still probably happen, experts say, despite the high-profile security breaches. That’s because the public is getting so used to the idea of hacks and data breaches, it doesn’t seem like a major event anymore. Eventually, everyone gets over it, experts say.

“I tend to not feel like these hacks are that big of a deal in the broader scheme of things,” Michael Mahoney, senior managing director at Falcon Point Capital, which invests in wireless companies, tells Bloomberg. “Obviously they can be damaging. But it doesn’t take too long before people forget about it.”

Ever since Target’s major data breach in 2013, the public has become much more aware of such things, added Eva Casey Velasquez, chief executive officer of the Identity Theft Resource Center.

“People know what a data breach is,” she tells Bloomberg. “But because it did become so ubiquitous in our conversation, there’s a little bit of apathy.”

Yahoo announced its first massive breach in September, saying that at least 500 million users had been affected. Rumors began swirling that Verizon wouldn’t walk away from the $4.8 billion deal to buy Yahoo, but that it might want a discount. By late October, Verizon said it was still waiting for more info on Yahoo’s data breach before moving forward.

Cut to mid-December, when Yahoo confirmed that a billion or so users had been affected by a breach that happened in 2013, one that was “likely distinct” from the breach disclosed in September.

While Verizon will likely go ahead with the purchase, Mahoney notes to Bloomberg, it’ll “certainly” use the breach as leverage to try to cut the price it pays. “[B]ut I doubt that it changes the strategic rationale for why they want to buy Yahoo.”