Merchant Innovation

Yahoo Looks To Nix Passwords In Security Push

Passwords for digital accounts have become almost as ubiquitous as the devices they’re used to access, and the statistics paint a scary picture. According to Entrepreneurthe three most common passwords in 2014 were, shockingly, “123456,” “PASSWORD” and “12345.”

It’s clear that passwords aren’t the strict security measure they were intended to function as, and Yahoo is taking a major step to change that.

The Internet giant announced yesterday (Oct. 15) that it would be doing away with passwords for users with Yahoo Mail accounts on iOS and Android. Instead of forcing users to remember complex and cryptic codes, Yahoo is instituting a new Yahoo Account Key service that will use smartphones to verify users’ identities and grant account access. Dylan Casey, vice president of product management at Yahoo, explained in a statement that the new service is a natural extension of what Yahoo has been doing and what consumers want.

“Passwords are difficult to remember and secondary sign-in verification is inconvenient and confusing,” Casey said. “Earlier this year we launched on-demand passwords using an SMS code. We’re now taking a major leap towards a password-free future with the launch of Yahoo Account Key, which uses push notifications to give users simple and secure access using their mobile device.”

Though rolling out an alternative to passwords on a niche email client is far from revolutionary, data from Entrepreneur shows a clear and pressing financial need for a more secure way to access personal and business accounts. About 90 percent of all employees’ professional passwords were so weak as to be crackable in under six hours. And with an average price tag of $200,000 for small- and medium-sized businesses to clean up the mess after a breach, Yahoo’s move toward its Account Key service starts sounding like a fiscally responsible idea.

Not all experts are convinced that Yahoo’s announcement is the death knell of the password as we know it, but with smartphones so commonplace and consumer familiarity with them so high, Yahoo might have something on its hands.

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