Medium stays firmly anti-password with radical e-mail-based logins

The blogging platform no longer requires a Twitter or Facebook account, but still won't let you create a password.


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Medium is doing its best to stay password-free by letting users log in with a secure email link.

The blogging platform had previously required a Facebook or Twitter account to sign in, but realized that not everyone uses those networks or wants to tie their social network account to a new service they’re just trying out. As an alternative, users can get a sign-in link by email that works only once and expires after 15 minutes.

“Passwords are neither secure nor simple,” Medium wrote in a blog post. “They’re hard to remember or easy to guess, everyone re-uses them (even though they know they shouldn’t), and they’re a pain to type on mobile. They don’t even keep you that safe.”

As with Twitter and Facebook logins, the new email links essentially shift the security burden onto other services where you’re more likely to have a stronger password or two-factor authentication. Instead of having lots of accounts that aren’t very secure, the idea is to have a handful of highly secure accounts that act as your master key for various other web services.

Of course, someone who gained access to your email could then use it to sign into Medium, but at that point you’ve got much bigger problems. And as Medium points out, most password-based services let you reset your credentials through email anyway. Still, Medium says it’s looking into other login options such as text messaging, which could only be compromised through physical access to your phone.

Why this matters: The new login system is part of an industry-wide move away from passwords, which all too often fall into the wrong hands. While keeping a combination in your head has some advantages, having to do so for dozens of sites encourages bad behavior such as overly simple passwords and repeats. Consolidating makes a lot of sense, especially when combined with additional layers of security such as biometric feedback and physical keys.

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