Yahoo thinks OTPs are a good replacement for regular passwords.

by | Mar 16, 2015

How often do you forget your password? My guess is, very often on the average. No feeling is worse than having to rack your brain for hours, trying to remember which password you used to create that long abandoned account. Which is why Yahoo has announced a new SMS-based login system so users may never have to remember a password ever again.

They’re calling it “on-demand passwords” and it works just like the one-time-password system anyone doing online financial transactions in Nigeria is familiar with. Once on the Yahoo login screen, all you have to do is enter your username, Yahoo sends a one-time-password to your phone, you key it in and viola, you’re logged in. No more passwords. The service is currently available to only US residents. Hopefully, it will roll out to more countries in due time. You can find out how to opt-in to the service on the Yahoo Blog.

A couple of concerns come to mind. First of course is security – “hackers” no longer has to guess your password if they can get access to your phone and username – but even more importantly, if our experience with OTPs (One-Time Passwords) in Nigeria has taught us anything, it’s that SMS is an unreliable on-demand authentication system. I mean it’s okay if all you’re using it for is to setup an account or authenticate a one-time activity. But when it comes to more urgent activities like logging into your mail or paying for something online, it can prove frustrating. Primarily because of the delays in SMS delivery, which interestingly is not just a Nigerian concern, as this US-based reviewer of Yahoo’s on-demand password service proves:

Confirmation text messages have been arriving slowly, delayed by 10-15 minutes or more. It’s not clear if that’s a problem with Yahoo, with my carrier, or with my phone. Regardless, it is preventing me from confirming my phone number to set up the service.

Would you enable on-demand-passwords if, or when, it became available in your area?

Múyìwá Mátùlúkò
Múyìwá Mátùlúkò

Chief Servant. I bully myself because I make me do what I put my mind to.

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Nathaniel Fruebi
Nathaniel Fruebi
4 years ago

Speaking as one who have been using OTPs for financial transactions online, its a welcome development but It should be an added alternative and not the only means of logging in to your email account. It’s a great innovation from yahoo.

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