Yahoo! taking major security steps with new email encryption and login options

16 Mar 2015

Yahoo! has announced two new email options that should see stark improvements to users’ personal data security – encryption across emails and a new password-free login.

The new login option, called ‘on-demand passwords’, sees those who sign up to the service never needing to remember a password again.

Instead, they merely prompt Yahoo! and it sends them a unique login via SMS, essentially the second step of many of today’s two-step authentication processes. The company claims this will make the apparently difficult process of remembering your Yahoo! password far “less anxiety-inducing”.

Announced at South by Southwest in Texas, Yahoo!’s vice president of product management for consumer platforms Dylan Casey claimed the new login process is the “first step to eliminating passwords”, according to CNet.

It’s already available in the US, and it’s not yet clear when the service will be rolled out elsewhere.

Elsewhere – and potentially far more significant – Alex Stamos, the company’s chief information security officer, has announced plans for a new encrypted email service that will let users scramble their messages so that even Yahoo! can’t read them.

According to the Wall Street Journal, Yahoo!’s process of encryption is significantly quicker than any other options available right now, with the presentation of the service showing that it takes just a minute to send an encrypted mail.

Indeed as Stamos showed how it was done, “he used the extra time to look at cat pictures”.

One rather key piece of security to remember, though, is that despite the email content being encrypted, key information like when it was sent, what the subject line read and who it was sent to will still be documented.

Secure online image, via Shutterstock

Gordon Hunt was a journalist with Silicon Republic