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Yahoo To Open Up Email Authentication 75

Aditi.Tuteja writes, "Yahoo has announced it will give away the browser-based authentication used in its email service, considered to be the company's 'crown jewels.' Yahoo made the announcement ahead of a 24-hour 'Yahoo Hack Day,' where it had invited more than 500 mostly youthful outside programmers to build new applications using Yahoo services. Considering the different needs of its huge user base (257 million people use Yahoo Mail), Yahoo has decided it can't build or buy enough innovation, so they are enlisting the worldwide developer community." The code will be released late in 2006. Yahoo notes that there are 'no security risks' since they keep absolute control of usernames and passwords.
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Yahoo To Open Up Email Authentication

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  • Now if they can just work on all the spammers, and fake porn bots that infest the network, then they may have something going for them. Hiring the world to do thier work. BRILLIANT!
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Hiring the world to do thier work. BRILLIANT!

      I really wish people wouldn't do this crap. It's not Mom and Pop's Search Engine Co. It's frigging Yahoo. If you want programmers, pay some damn programmers.

      DARPA Grand Challenge, sure. Nobody's getting your crap for free when you're done. GPL, sure. They only get it if they give back. But stupid competitions like this just feed cash into the already-cash-filled pockets of corporations. Not that corporations making money is a bad thing, but we don't need
    • What happens to IT staff/ techos that make millions themselves through stock options in the late 90s?

      You become lazy rich yuppies (see the yahoo ceos daughter on mtv? gawd) and your brain turns into drivel that cannot

      Go on a 4week engineering brain storm trip, no girls, no CC cards, no email to your wifes.

      That will give you 5 years of engineering brillians between 10 smart people.

      How hard is it to kill all the bots/fake accounts? how about killing all accounts with a prefix of 5 or more digits or A
  • Good for Yahoo (Score:5, Insightful)

    by lewp ( 95638 ) on Sunday October 01, 2006 @12:16AM (#16263195) Journal
    In their struggle to maintain relevance in the face of Google, Yahoo has really done a complete 180 from the days when their main service was a manually-reviewed index of websites. They've had the good sense to keep their noses out of (e.g. Flickr), and they've made some cool products/technologies available to the developer community for free.

    Google gets all the press nowadays, but Yahoo's been pretty cool lately as well. Props!
    • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      "They've had the good sense to keep their noses out of the things they've acquired (e.g. Flickr)"

      So maybe I've been drinking...
    • Exactly. A lot of people bash up Yahoo, but they seem to be doing a fair job maintaining their status as the highest traffic website. Granted that their user base is not exactly the most elite on the web, but the company as a whole is giving pretty good (if not excellent) services to its users. And the highlight of this has been its acquisitions. Like flickr and (which they intelligently kept separate from Yahoo MyWeb 2.0). Google is going great guns, but for me Yahoo is the player to beat to b
    • I thought they did a 360 [], really?
  • 257m users. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    How many of those 257 million users are spambots?
  • by RuBLed ( 995686 ) websites allowing their users to customize the css templates of their profile pages. There would surely be a few good innovations but like 70% of my friends "customized profile pages", most would visually painful enough that.. arrghhh..!! *head explodes*
  • by denis-The-menace ( 471988 ) on Sunday October 01, 2006 @12:31AM (#16263263)
    Does this mean that I'll be finally able to login into Yahoo email with the built-in password handling in Firefox?

    If so, I'll believe it when I see it.
  • Still too much spam! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Kid Zero ( 4866 ) on Sunday October 01, 2006 @12:32AM (#16263267) Homepage Journal
    Geez.... their spam filters are non-existant.

    • Actually, I found their spam filter the best (but I haven't used that account for a year, so...). Practically none false positives and no spam getting through.
      On GMail, I get so much spam I don't check it anymore. Still, it seems as good a filter as yahoo's
      • by Kid Zero ( 4866 )
        I've got the opposite problem. Yahoo I get so much spam I pretty much don't bother with it. Gmail sticks it all (and I mean ALL) of it in the spam folder. I clear that out when it hits three digits.
        Yahoo I've got my blocklists, filters, and everything on, and I still get 50-60 pieces of spam a day in the main folder. Gmail is actually useable. :)

  • OpenID ? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by johnjones ( 14274 ) on Sunday October 01, 2006 @12:33AM (#16263271) Homepage Journal
    could they not just conform to a standard ?


    John Jones
  • Of late, I have encountered trouble logging into Yahoo Mail. In fact, this has been going on for three months. Before Yahoo begins talking about or even blowing their own trumpet about their "Crown Jewels", they should at least make their [mail] service as reliable as Google's Gmail. For the record, I am not impressed with their new email interface either.

    The other thing I'd like to see is full support for Mozilla's Firefox browser as far as Yahoo's Launchcast service is concerned. Don't mention that Grea

  • This would probably spark a wave of more efficient & integrated Web 2.0 Mashups.
  • Crown jewels? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by bogaboga ( 793279 ) on Sunday October 01, 2006 @12:47AM (#16263323)
    Come on that authentication code really a crown jewel? I am no coder but really wonder whether that title fits what the subject is here. What if we find that most if not all of this authentication code was lifted from BSD?
    • by Burz ( 138833 )
      They're encouraging developers to think, "Ooh shiny! I want!"

      How this is any more special then authenticating over TLS/POP3 is anyone's guess at this point. But I'll speculate that this is a way to entice developers to use Yahoo as a defacto authentication service as MS Passport aimed to be.

      Personally, I think users have moved on. Our browsers remember our passwords, and its not hard to synchronize password DBs between browsers if you use more than one.

      Think of this Yahoo authentication "openness" as a coun
    • Re:Crown jewels? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Schlemphfer ( 556732 ) on Sunday October 01, 2006 @01:47AM (#16263527) Homepage
      >Come on that authentication code really a crown jewel?

      The code isn't the crown jewel. What's of enormous value is the database of 250 million established Yahoo ID's.

      Suppose I want to open my blog up to comments. These days, I'd be nuts to allow non-account-holders to post, since I would be overwhelmed with comment spam. How many of my users will be willing to register a brand new username and password with my site's custom code? But if you've already got a Yahoo ID, that's all you'll need to go right ahead and post on my blog. See? The barriers to participating on my site have dropped almost to nothing, all because of Yahoo's pre-existing database of 250 million users.

      This is a win all the way around. It's a win for Yahoo, since it makes it more valuable for people to own a Yahoo ID. It's a win for me, since I don't need to generate custom code and maintain a database for user passwords. And it's a win for my users, who can now comment on my blog with little or no hassle.

      The losers? Sites like, who were created to offer the same feature that Yahoo is about to offer, but who don't have the crown jewel of 250 million user accounts.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Psychotria ( 953670 )
      I dunno about what you typed. Here in Australia though "crown jewels" means something umm... err.. well I aint giving them away and I'll keep them snug-as-a-bug in my underwear... err, on second thoughts don't read this message
  • jewlery (Score:4, Funny)

    by macadamia_harold ( 947445 ) on Sunday October 01, 2006 @12:50AM (#16263335) Homepage
    Yahoo has announced it will give away the browser-based authentication used in its email service, considered to be the company's 'crown jewels.'

    If that's one of their 'crown jewels', would their hosting service be considered the "family jewels"?
  • ... there are 'no security risks' since they keep absolute control of usernames and passwords.

    That's what my bank, credit card company and local government told me before they had a little "incident" with some script kiddies. Maybe the mattress is still the safest place for your money?
  • 'No security risk' (Score:5, Insightful)

    by SeaFox ( 739806 ) on Sunday October 01, 2006 @12:55AM (#16263355)
    Yahoo notes that there are 'no security risks' since they keep absolute control of usernames and passwords.

    Why does the phrase "famous last words" come to me when I hear that. I can almost imagine it being spoken by Hammond in Jurrasic Park when he's talking about how safe the attractions are and that it's impossible for the dinosaurs to breed.

    I forsee an explot being developed or maybe someone will just write a new "service" that makes use of Yahoo's systems that also happens to pass the username/pass to a more nafarious author.

    Remember, the tool is only as safe as the operator. AOL's search didn't even ask for people to enter their Social Security Numbers.
    • by wfberg ( 24378 )
      Yahoo notes that there are 'no security risks' since they keep absolute control of usernames and passwords.
      I forsee an explot being developed or maybe someone will just write a new "service" that makes use of Yahoo's systems that also happens to pass the username/pass to a more nafarious author.

      No need for exploits, even.

      When any random blog starts asking for your yahoo account and password, do you think people will even notice that some of them don't redirect to Most p
      • If you look into the implementation details of Browser-Based Authentication ( []), it says:

        Once the user enters their Yahoo! user ID and password, Yahoo! displays a Terms of Service page and lists the data which your application may access. If the user grants your application access, Yahoo! redirects the user to your site. The redirect URL contains a token that you use to retrieve the user's credentials.

        Wonder how this gets implemented for Yahoo Mail. When a user wants

  • I'm not saying that Yahoo should've provided IMAP/SMTP in the first place, though it would be nice for any email provider to do that. I'm suggesting that someone should write an IMAP/SMTP proxy for Yahoo mail.

    I would be interested in using that -- maybe. As it is, I use my own IMAP server anyway. Which is a nice thing when it comes to services that require a unique email address to set up an account -- I have as many email addresses as I want.
  • I don't get it. I've been using fetchyahoo [] for years, and have had to upgrade every few months as Yahoo has f*cked with their system, but it works great. What, exactly, are they 'giving away'?
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Burz ( 138833 )
      The Webmail extension [] for Thunderbird can access Yahoo Mail and also updates regularly. However its so easy to update extensions that I don't mind.

      If you want Yahoo-->IMAP, just setup an IMAP server (or an account with a provider like Fastmail) then setup a TB rule to move the Webmail onto your IMAP server.
  • by joeflies ( 529536 ) on Sunday October 01, 2006 @01:07AM (#16263401)
    Microsoft's tried to own identity by offering 3rd party authentication through Passport, and now shifted towards IDCard/LiveID. Google has already opened up their authentication []

    Ultimately this comes down to who are users going to flock to as their primary id on the internet - and thus users will use it to log into 3rd party applications which lie outside of microsoft/google/yahoo. The bigger question, though, is how come these companies are going to "own" your id instead of federate it.

    BTW, Yahoo has offered authentication services [] through other apps back in March.

  • Insanely brilliant (Score:3, Interesting)

    by dedazo ( 737510 ) on Sunday October 01, 2006 @01:10AM (#16263417) Journal
    Think about this - you can now integrate a full-blown email client into your application (CMS, corporate, portals, etc) by simply writing around what will probably be a thin WS/RPC wrapper. Branding can't be far behind, and Yahoo will probably use the insertion of (hopefully) unobtrusive ads to finance it. Higher-level customers can probably do much more, including getting rid of ads. Maybe the service will even work with other domains. Now John Coder can offer a real email client in his app with minimal effort.

    It remains to be seen if they can pull this off, but it's nice to see this type of innovation and broad steps coming from somewhere other than Google. I like Google, but they need the competition or they'll start to stagnate. Competition is good!

  • SUNNYDALE, California (Reuters) - Yahoo Inc. (Nasdaq:YHOO - news) is set to allow....

    Yea I mis-read the first line of the article :( Got me all exited and stuff...
  • 2 paragraphs from the article:

    Technically speaking, Yahoo is giving away "browser-based authentication" for its e-mail service for developers to build new applications. Currently only Yahoo Mail ( and certain broadband partners like AT&T (NYSE:T - news) and BT (BT.L) are granted such access to the code.

    This will allow people to make custom versions of the basic interface, or look, of e-mail. Other uses may include tapping the information inside a user's e-mail program to create new

    • Core thing is, Yahoo! and Google, through its Summer of Code are now wooing developers? Probably for the same reasons that Microsoft and other software companies have been doing to developers for decades: to find prospective employees and build a qualified labor pool. To drive adoption of their platform at companies by influencing their IT staff; to encourage development of third party applications based on their platform and services. Releasing this API is maybe just an Eyewash..
  • Since Yahoo keeps absolute control of usernames and passwords there are no security risks, Dickerson said.

    Man,thats so courageous.Iam surprised how Yahoo is so confident.

  • Phishing (Score:2, Interesting)

    by aaronwormus ( 716976 )

    Phishing is a BIG problem with Yahoo (and other big websites) plenty of users lose control of their Yahoo! IDs (granted they are not so bright, as seen by the average IQ of people who responded to this post []).

    I would hate for a phishing attack on Yahoo to make my site vulnerable. And with more and more websites popping up Yahoo! signups, it just makes it easier for someone to spoof the form on their site and gather passwords.

    In the Favor of Y! they have taken good steps against phishing attempts, but it st

    • Invite others to join this site! Enter your (Yahoo|Hotmail) address and password here and we'll invite your friends automatically!
  • ... there STILL won't be a voice chat client for the Mac users!

    Lee Darrow, C.H.
    Chicago, IL
  • by 192939495969798999 ( 58312 ) <> on Sunday October 01, 2006 @08:49AM (#16264877) Homepage Journal
    So now if i login to Yahoo, every jerk with a website can read that cookie and know who i am, right?
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by ubernostrum ( 219442 )

      So now if i login to Yahoo, every jerk with a website can read that cookie and know who i am, right?

      Nope. The press release is really short on details, but the official developer docs [] spell things out more clearly: the initial authentication takes place on servers Yahoo controls, and the user has to explicitly consent to opening up any information the third-party site wants to access. If they do, Yahoo provides an authentication token that can be used to make calls to Yahoo's various web services on b

  • by justMichael ( 606509 ) on Sunday October 01, 2006 @12:39PM (#16266507) Homepage
    The code will be released late in 2006. Yahoo notes that there are 'no security risks' since they keep absolute control of usernames and passwords.
    This was released on Friday [], and I spent a couple hours adding it to Feed Harvesst [].

    It works pretty well, though I'm not all that big a fan of the process of logging in. The process goes like this:
    1. Redirect the user to Yahoo!
    2. User logs into Yahoo!
    3. User has to confim that they are allowing your site access to their data (for Feed Harvest it's only an auth, no access)
    4. Yahoo! redirects the user back to you with an optional hash so you can keep track of the users account on your side.

    This all seems reasonable, but I think I'd like to see the ability to set a pref so that you don't have to confirm every time. Other than that it does lower the barrier to entry for a site/service.

    You have to choose the level of acccess when you register your app. When I registered the choices were (from memory):
    • Auth Only
    • Read/Write access to Yahoo! Mail
    • Read access to Photos
    • Read/Write access to photos

1 1 was a race-horse, 2 2 was 1 2. When 1 1 1 1 race, 2 2 1 1 2.