So, 200 million Yahoo email accounts got hacked, and they’re now up for sale for the price of $1,800. Which works out to each email account being worth about .000009 cents, or nine-millionth of a penny. The price demanded for info from widespread data breaches like this is usually pretty low, but this is rock-bottom pricing. In early September, info from 68.7 million Dropbox accounts was being sold for two bitcoins, or about $1,200, which works out to .000017 cents per account — about double what a Yahoo account can fetch. Your Yahoo ID is worth virtually nothing.
And why shouldn’t it be?
Yahoo mail has made strides recently, but the bottom line for email service providers is they don’t get hacked. This is a no-second-chances, no-excuses kind of rule. If you’re still using Yahoo mail as your main personal email account, this may be the nudge you needed to switch to Gmail. If you’re worried about missing anything vital from Yahoo, set up auto forward.
There used to be a good argument for keeping a Yahoo log-in and password around for the legendary photo-sharing site Flickr — but now that the excellent Google Photos is up and running, there’s no real reason to stick around. (Apologies to those still active in Flickr communities, but it’s not what it once was.)
If you’re into fantasy football and are stuck using Yahoo Fantasy Football, suffer through this season (especially if you drafted Adrian Peterson early) and then get everyone to move over to ESPN or CBS.
Tumblr may be owned by Yahoo, but it’s wisely kept its log-in separate from having a Yahoo ID.
If you are using Yahoo Answers, you are either a troll or are silently reading this sentence out loud to yourself, so I guess either way, enjoy yourself out there. Having a Yahoo ID otherwise is worthless.
But here’s the thing: Even worthless things can still have a use. There’s one thing I keep a Yahoo email account for, and it’s something that doesn’t make me too worried about an Estonian teenager cracking into my account (though I did go and update my password today). It’s an old trick but a good one: I use Yahoo as a dumpster for spam and newsletters. Whenever I want to sign up for some garbage service, or enter a garbage contest, or just want to get at some piece of garbage (white papers being a prime example) — basically, anything that’s somehow gated by the need for a valid email address — I give them my Yahoo address instead of my personal or work addresses.
When I check in to my Yahoo mail, usually just to grab a verification code, there are mounds of newsletters and offers and one-time deals waiting for me in the special Yahoo-branded dumpster I’ve carted into my virtual back alley. I’m still able to access the services and websites I want to use, and my personal email remains (relatively) free of pleading, hectoring, and otherwise irritating emails. Perhaps if someone was especially interested in me, they could sift their way through all that garbage and social engineer their way into things I actually do care about — but I’ve been using the password manager LastPass on anything I care about since LinkedIn spread my info around, and feel pretty secure that nobody’s getting in. (Note to Estonian teenagers: Please don’t hack me.)
Yahoo’s travails are such that you want to feel sorry for the company — once a pillar of the web, now fallen on unbelievably hard times. But you can’t stay with a company that doesn’t keep your data safe — and doesn’t tell you there’s been a breach for two years. And besides, you’re not really leaving all the way. If until now you’ve been using Yahoo as your primary email account, change your password, export your email, set up an auto-respond message to let people know you’re using a different account now, auto forward whatever comes in, and then delete everything. You now have a great dumpster. Time to fill it up.