Is Yahoo Mail Safe? Err… You Should Probably Read This
Yahoo Mail has tens of millions of years. I find that incredible given the company’s track record with security…
Launched in 1997, Yahoo Mail has been through many changes over the years, adding new features and different types of plans. You now have three types of plans for Yahoo Mail: Basic, Plus, and Ad-Free. And as of Q1 2020, Yahoo Mail has upwards of 225 million users.
Yahoo is now also owned by Verizon, the US carrier. Since its acquisition by Verizon, Yahoo has updated and released the new Yahoo Mail which featured a new design language, it’s cleaner and smarter-looking, as well as unique things like in-app coupons for when you’re shopping.
And that’s fine. Of those 225 million users, most, I imagine, are legacy users that have been using Yahoo Mail for decades or years at a time. My mum uses it, for instance, despite my efforts to get her switched over to Gmail. But no amount of new features and tweaks can erase Yahoo’s sketchy past…
Yahoo Mail & Security – A Match Made In HELL…
Of all the reasons I would never use Yahoo Mail, security and privacy is the #1 reason why I would sooner not have email than exclusively use Yahoo Mail. Think about it: can you name another email provider that has been linked with so many data and security breaches over the past decade?
Here’s a breakdown of all of Yahoo Mail’s screw-ups and controversies over the years:
- 3 Billion Yahoo Accounts Hacked: Let’s start with the most recent scandal. In 2016, Yahoo reported that more than one billion user accounts were hacked. As it turned out, Yahoo wasn’t completely clear about the numbers. In the end, it turned out that three billion accounts had been hacked but Yahoo decided not to tell anyone until 2017. Classy stuff.
- Shi Tao Arrest: In 2004, Shi Tao, a journalist, was arrested and imprisoned for 10 years in China for leaking “leaking state secrets”. And how did the authorities find out what Tao was doing? Simple: Yahoo ratted him out, acting as an informant for Chinese authorities. Yahoo eventually reached a settlement with Shi Tao after he was released from prison in 2013.
- User Name Bans: In 2006, Yahoo started banning certain types of usernames. I say, certain types, but in actual fact, it was only usernames that contained the words Allah – or, by proxy, any combination that contained the letters that spelled out Allah, so Linda Callahan, for instance, was blocked. Yahoo, facing yet another major backlash, lifted the ban on February 23, 2006.
- Mass Account Deleting: In 2013, Yahoo started deleting accounts that hadn’t been active for 12 months. Not only that, but it then started giving out the usernames associated with these accounts to new users. Yahoo did not notify any of the users about their accounts being deleted. And this was a major problem because plenty of those accounts had redirects, whereby mail sent to a Yahoo account was redirected to another account, but rather than the mail redirecting, in some cases, it was sent to the new owner of the username. You honestly couldn’t make this stuff up!
- Sharing Data With NSA: In 2015, reports showed that Yahoo Mail has implemented a technology that was able to scan all incoming emails for specific keywords. Anything potentially dodgy could then be shared with the National Security Agency. And if that doesn’t terrify you to your core, nothing will.
Given all of the above, and that’s just a select few examples, you have to wonder why anyone would use Yahoo Mail? Granted, things have calmed down a lot of late, but you still have plenty of issues with things like Yahoo giving the NSA a backdoor to your email.
But the main thing is that Yahoo doesn’t seem to ever admit when it has done something wrong. The fact that ALL of its accounts were exposed to hackers in 2013 and it took the company several years to eventually come clean about it, frankly, is terrifying from a security perspective. Imagine a hacker having your email details, without your knowledge, for potentially four years?
No Company is Immune To Data Breaches
I’m not trying to demonize Yahoo Mail here. No technology company is immune to data breaches, as you can see here. Just like humans, no one email is perfect. But, again, like humans, it’s not what you do, good or bad, it is how you handle the potential fall out. If you do something wrong and you’re honest about it, that’s OK – we all make mistakes. But to just hide it and hope no one notices? That’s not cool.
Case in point: Gmail has had data breaches over the years, and so too has Apple and Microsoft, but in nearly all cases, the companies alerted the media and, most importantly, their users about the threat. What they didn’t do is wait several years and hope it just goes away. That’s like PR suicide. But this is exactly what Yahoo Mail did back in 2013 with its data breach.
And for this reason, I would NEVER use Yahoo Mail. And neither should you. My advice? Get Gmail. It comes with a full suite of documents, thanks to its bundling with Google Drive, or, if you don’t like Google, go with Microsoft.
Either way, don’t use Yahoo Mail.
Your data is just too important to take chances with…
Richard Goodwin has been working as a tech journalist for over 10 years. He is the editor and owner of KnowYourMobile.