Let’s start at the beginning.
In August 2016, we learned that a hacker known as Peace was offering for sale 200 million Yahoo user accounts on the dark web.
More than a month later, the American tech company gave us some more awful news: a “state-sponsored actor” had hacked its computer system back in 2014 and compromised at least 500 million users’ accounts.
Some users of Yahoo’s free web-mail subsequently sued the company as reports emerged that the breach could have affected computer users who didn’t even own a Yahoo account.
That was enough fishy business for BT and a number of other companies to begin investigating Yahoo. One security firm in particular said it had found evidence that hackers, not a state-sponsored actor, probably stole the account information of the 500 million users.
Had Yahoo been wrong in its attribution? Or had it been trying to save face?
Either way, things went downhill from there.
Just a week later, news broke about how Yahoo had complied with a secret U.S. government directive to scan all of its users’ incoming emails.
The way in which the program was set up could have potentially allowed a hacker to read every single email sent over Yahoo’s network, a fatal error which some EU policymakers hope the European Commission will invoke as a means to challenge the Privacy Shield data-sharing agreement.
In the wake of the email spying programs, Verizon, which itself hasn’t done the best job protecting users’ privacy, said it could decide to reduce its offer to buy Yahoo for $5 billion if it doesn’t decide to walk away from the deal entirely.
Yahoo also inadvertently (or not) pushed back against users who decided to deactivate their Yahoo email accounts by disabling its auto-forwarding feature.
To be fair, it could have done so for legitimate reasons, such as preventing hackers from auto-forwarding messages sent to users’ compromised accounts. But it still hasn’t gone over too well, with some users accusing the company of purposefully making that decision to prevent them from jumping ship.
What a cynical move, if that’s true.
But at this point, it doesn’t even matter. Users everywhere have seen enough to lose all of their trust in Yahoo. If you’re a Yahoo user, it’s time to move on and delete your account - even if that means setting up a new email account now and changing over all of your web subscriptions gradually.
Here’s some things to think about beforehand.
Save your Contacts and Mail before you migrate
No user wants to start over fresh and not have any of their contacts or messages saved. That’s why it’s important they take some time to make sure they can access these pieces of information from their new email account.
Fortunately, this is all pretty easy to do.
Yahoo has a feature that allows you to export your contact list to an importable file.
Also, while the site doesn’t come with a feature that allows you to export your mail, you can save all of your messages to your computer’s hard drive if you have Outlook or Thunderbird retrieve them first. Alternatively, you can import them to your new mail service’s depending to which mail provider you’re planning to switch. (Google’s Gmail comes with this feature, for instance.)
Delete your Yahoo-owned accounts
As a tech company, Yahoo owns a number of other smaller companies with which you might have accounts. It’s important that you go through and separately delete all of those accounts, too. For example, here’s how you can delete your accounts on Flickr and Tumblr, both of which are owned by Yahoo.
How to delete your Yahoo account
With those matters taken care of, it’s time to deactivate your Yahoo account.
- Sign into your Yahoo email.
- Enter the URL
edit.yahoo.com/config/delete_userinto the address bar and click Enter.
- Reenter your password to be brought to the Yahoo account termination page.
- Read over the page. When you’re satisfied with its contents, fill in your password and the CAPTCHA into the appropriate text fields and click the Terminate this Account button.
- And that’s all it takes.
Yahoo says it will now delete your account in approximately 90 days. For now it has been deactivated (Yahoo says this is to protect against malicious account abuse, but presumably it also gives you the option of changing your mind if your realise you need to regain access to your Yahoo account for any reason).
Get an account with a service like ProtonMail or another email provider that takes good care of your privacy and security. And enjoy saying goodbye to Yahoo for good.