Yahoo Downplays Identity Theft Fears Tied to Recycling Old Email Accounts
August 17, 2013
Ben here, AllClear ID Investigator. Yahoo announced that they would soon be resetting accounts that have remained stagnant for over a year. This decision would allow active users the opportunity to take over the username of their choice. Yahoo’s senior vice president Jay Rossiter states that this is Yahoo’s “next big push” and they want to give “loyal users and new folks the opportunity to sign up for the Yahoo! ID they’ve always wanted”. However, a change like this brings up ID theft concerns for many people. Yahoo had downplayed these concerns, claiming they have put a lot of thought into this move, and have deemed it a good one.
ID Theft Concerns
The concerns one would have in recycling usernames would be that the new sign-ups with recycled names could go on to take over the personality of the old account owner. Dylan Casey, Yahoo’s senior director for consumer platforms said “Can I tell you with 100-percent certainty that it’s absolutely impossible for anything to happen? No, But we’re going to extraordinary lengths to ensure that nothing bad happens to our users.”
There are other concerns that these dormant accounts are being used as alternate emails for password resets. Users might have registered a Yahoo email as the point of contact in case their other email service was compromised. There have been suggestions that a reset message could either not be received or be received by the wrong person. Additionally, there are concerns that those signing up could be using recycled names and pretend to be the old user, accessing their accounts or personal information. Yahoo stated that they will be notifying other services, such as Google and Amazon, of which accounts have been deactivated. They will also unsubscribe the reused email addresses from mailing lists and marketing opportunities before they are issued to new users.
The first of the sweeps will occur on July 15, with Yahoo already notifying affected users that they have 30 days to log into their account and keep active. “We’ve put a lot of thought, a lot of resources dedicated to this project” Dylan Cassey insisted. Only time will tell if this decision is a good one.