Yahoo! has unveiled a one-time only password feature, alongside end-to-end encryption for Yahoo! Mail that was created by its rival, Google.
Under the new authentication method available to US users, a new password that can only be used once is texted directly to users each time they want to log in. However, SmartCompany can confirm the feature is not available in Australia and it is unclear when it will be rolled out locally.
Users can opt-in to the new feature by pulling up their account settings and choosing security. From there, there is an option to opt-in to on-demand passwords after entering the mobile phone number associated with their account, to which Yahoo! will send an activation code.
Also on the security front, Yahoo! is adding end-to-end encryption to Yahoo! Mail, based on code from a Google-developed open source project called End-To-End. The Google-developed Chrome extension allows users to encrypt, decrypt, digital sign, and verify signed messages. The new features come as concerns over cybersecurity in the US grow following leaks about the US National Security Agency’s data gathering program by intelligence whistleblower Warren Snowden.
The new security focus comes after Yahoo! apologised for a hacking attack on its Voice service in July 2012, which saw the passwords of around 400,000 users stolen. Another attack in February 2013 involved its New Zealand subsidiary, Yahoo!Xtra, being hacked through a vulnerability in an outdated version of WordPress, with some victims reporting they received spam emails from dead relatives as a result. Yahoo!’s patchy track record on cybersecurity continued in January last year when malware was served through the company’s ad network, with the tech giant initially underestimating the severity of the problem.
The news comes at a crucial juncture for both Yahoo! and its chief executive Marissa Mayer following the initial public offering of Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba, with Yahoo! disposing of its original 24% stake in the company. Following the IPO, investment firm Starboard Value urged Yahoo! to close its non-media assets and merge with rival Aol.