Expect phishers and other password thieves to up their game in 2016: Both Google and Yahoo! are taking steps to kill off the password as we know it.
New authentication methods now offered by Yahoo! and to a beta group of Google users let customers log in just by supplying their email address, and then responding to a notification sent to their mobile device.
According to TechCrunch, Google is giving select Gmail users a password-free means of signing in. It uses a “push” notification sent to your phone that then opens an app where you approve the log-in.
The article says the service Google is experimenting with will let users sign in without entering a password, but that people can continue to use their typed password if they choose. It also says Google may still ask for your password as an additional security measure if it notices anything unusual about a login attempt.
The new authentication feature being tested by some Gmail users comes on the heels of a similar service Yahoo! debuted in October 2015. That offering, called “on-demand passwords,” will text users a random four-character code (the ones I saw were all uppercase letters) that needs to be entered into a browser or mobile device.
This is not Yahoo!’s first stab at two-factor authentication. Another security feature it has offered for years — called “two-step verification” — sends a security code to your phone when you log in from new devices, but only after you supply your password. Yahoo! users who wish to take advantage of the passwords-free, on-demand password feature will need to disable two-step verification for on-demand passwords to work.