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It is not uncommon for malicious hackers to sit on data for a while -- years even -- before they decide to sell/share the data.
Yahoo was apparently unaware of the two hacks until some third-party security experts brought them to Yahoo's attention. As reported, Yahoo still doesn't know what the original hacks were. This suggests that all they have are the lists of the hacked accounts.
One of those lists has a half-billion names, the other a billion. If it is true that those lists are the only evidence they have of the hacks (a notion supported by the assertion that they don't know the mechanism of the hacks), it might have taken months simply to develop the suspicion there might have been two hacks. Once that realization hit, it would take some time to verify that the half-billion list wasn't just a subset of the billion list. If it was a subset, there was just one hack. If they lists diverge significantly, then there were two.
I can't say for a fact either way. But with the information we have been given, both explanations are plausible.
1) The accumulation of hacks on Yahoo were really, really, really bad. No one should be surprised if Verizon calls it off.
2) The accumulation of hacks on Yahoo are ancient; if any company has ever been legally penalized for a hack, it's rare; if any corporate executive has ever lost their job as penalty for a hack, I don't know who it is; every single subscriber has been hacked so often elsewhere with little or no remuneration, there's no expectation of recompense of any sort any more, and going elsewhere seems pointless because if it isn't Yahoo, it's their (our) shopping outlets, insurance company, medical facility, or the state & federal government agencies. In short, nothing has diminished the value of what Verizon wants: the subscriber traffic and the ad business. No one should be surprised if Verizon pulls the trigger on the deal anyway.
I'm not betting on one or the other. Both seem equally likely to me.
New Yahoo SNAFU may poo-poo Verizon woo
If Verizon does decide to go ahead, I bet the deal now involves about 100 extra pages of liability clauses.