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Marissa Mayer does not lock her iPhone with a passcode

Yahoo chief is prepared to give security the finger
Thu Sep 12 2013, 14:17
Marissa Mayer, not worrying about a passcode

INTERNET PORTAL Yahoo's CEO Marissa Mayer has revealed that she can't be bothered to enter a passcode when she accesses her iPhone, and has welcomed the fingerprint alternative.

Mayer was asked about her digital privacy precautions during a chat at the Techcrunch Disrupt conference. Much to the shock of the chattering security class, she admitted that she leaves her phone wide open.

"It's funny because you mocked me once at Techcrunch, maybe it was at LeWeb.. because Mike was making fun of me because I don't have a passcode on my phone," she said.

"And Mike [Arrington] was like, 'Are you crazy?', and I was like 'Look, I just can't do this passcode thing - like - 15 times a day,' and then when I saw the fingerprint thing I thought now I don't have to..."

This has not gone down well with security experts. Graham Cluley expressed his shock at the news, not least of all his incredulity at such a cavalier attitude towards phone security.

"What kind of example is she setting by not having any form of login security on her smartphone?," he said.

"If someone was able to access Marissa Mayer's mobile phone (which she admits is always left unlocked) just imagine the confidential email conversations between her and her senior colleagues at Yahoo that they would be able to access, as well as who knows what other sensitive information about a publicly floated company. What a soft target for hackers, data thieves and spies she is!"

Jeremiah Grossman, CTO and co-founder of Whitehat Security said that perhaps Mayer does not take security as seriously as she does her time.

"Perhaps she feels the personal slowdown is more costly than it would be if someone stole her phone and got whatever data was on it. So, that's the risk tradeoff," he said. "Given her role, I'm not sure she is wrong either."

Independent security analyst Per Thorsheim wondered whether Mayer was so lax was because "nobody is interested in Yahoo anyway. ;-)".

Meanwhile, F-Secure security advisor Sean Sullivan suggested that Mayer does not move in the sort of circles where you have to keep an eye on your phone.

"It seems to me that the 'blame the user' tech crowd is a bit too eager to pile on the abuse for her habits. Perhaps they just don't want to admit their advice is a failure, which doesn't really meet everybody's real-world needs," he said.

"Context matters. Regular people are careless with their phones, so regular people should really consider using a password. Internet company CEOs who live in the penthouse of the Four Seasons aren't regular folks, so the same advice just doesn't apply." µ


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