09 March 2017

Yahoo GC resigns over cybersecurity failures

A report prepared for the Securities and Exchange Commission identified $11 million worth of legal costs associated with a mass hack of Yahoo accounts that took place in 2014.

By Kathryn Higgins

On board work experience scheme


Last week, Yahoo confirmed that general counsel and company secretary Ron Bell has resigned from the company after more than 15 years at Yahoo and almost five years at the helm of its legal department. His exit comes in the immediate aftermath of an internal investigation into cybersecurity failures at Yahoo which have so far affected more than 1 billion user accounts. Of the $16m lost by Yahoo during 2016 as a result of the discovery and disclosure of the breaches, $5m is attributable to ongoing forensic investigation and remediation activities, while the remaining $11m represents losses associated with legal costs.

No exit payout

A spokesperson from Yahoo told industry publication The Lawyer that ‘no payments’ will be made to Mr Bell in connection with his resignation from the company. Former Broadcom general counsel and current Sheppard Mullin Richter & Hampton partner Art Chong has been appointed as interim general counsel until a permanent successor for Mr Bell is found.

Mayer skips on bonus

Mr Bell’s resignation comes alongside the news that Yahoo chief executive officer Marissa Mayer will be without both her bonus and her stock award this year. The decision comes after the SEC found senior executives at Yahoo responsible for the ‘mishandling’ of cybersecurity breaches at the company.

In a blog post discussing her decision to forgo her bonus, Ms Mayer wrote:

‘When I learned in September 2016 that a large number of our user database files had been stolen, I worked with the team to disclose the incident to users, regulators, and government agencies. However, I am the CEO of the company and since this incident happened during my tenure, I have agreed to forgo my annual bonus and my annual equity grant this year and have expressed my desire that my bonus be redistributed to our company's hardworking employees, who contributed so much to Yahoo's success in 2016.’

Sources: The Lawyer; Fortune; Deadline

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