Passwords are a long-in-the-tooth method of ensuring your digital security. They’re either easy to guess or difficult to remember, and if you’re smart and have different ones for different services, you have to have them saved somewhere, even if it’s within a manager. That’s something that a lot of companies are trying to do away with, hence Microsoft’s Hello system in Windows 10. And now Yahoo is getting in on the action, too, in hopes that its new security features will lure you back to its mail service.
How does Yahoo plan to kill passwords? Pseudo-two factor authentication. When you head to Yahoo Mail, you’ll be greeted with a username prompt. Pop it in, and a text message is sent to your smartphone, asking if you approve of the login attempt. If you do, hit yes, and you’re in — It’s that simple. No need for a password at all.
Not only does removing passwords potentially improve the security of Yahoo’s own site — as even in today’s climate, plenty of people use easy to guess passwords — but it will also improve security for its users across all sites. Without this vector to attack and gain people’s (potentially reusable) passwords, Yahoo users are better protected.
This isn’t the first attempt Yahoo has made to revamp its password system and blaze a new trail for digital security online, as CNet points out. It previously used what it called “on-demand,” passwords to text people temporary passwords. Again, that system used a secondary device as a way to double check a user’s identity.
That’s something that a lot of companies have looked into in recent years, with some firms like Blizzard opting to use elements from both of Yahoo’s systems. Logging into user accounts for its games often requires the use of a physical or app-based number generator. The temporary nature of those codes makes it much harder to get into accounts by traditional means.
In addition to the new no-password security tools, the new Yahoo Mail app also includes several improved features to convince new users to abandon Gmail or whatever other email client they currently use. Yahoo says its Mail app is the only big-name email app that connects to Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook, so you see your contacts’ photos more easily. It also boasts avatars for your contacts that are made from pretty Flickr images, contact cards with all the contacts’ info — even tweets, swipe to delete messages, and quick access to Yahoo News right in the app.