Paging Yahoo’s IT department: Marissa Mayer doesn’t use a passcode on her phone

Sitting duck.
Sitting duck.
Image: Reuters/Beck Diefenbach
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Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer doesn’t use a passcode to protect her phone, defying the wisdom of most corporate IT departments.

“I just can’t do this passcode thing 15 times a day,” she said on stage at the TechCrunch Disrupt conference in San Francisco. Mayer was answering a question about the new fingerprint scanner on Apple’s iPhone 5S, which can be used to unlock the phone instead of a traditional passcode. She said it was her favorite feature unveiled by Apple yesterday.

“When I saw the fingerprint thing, I was like, and now I don’t have to” bother with a passcode, she said.

Mayer is hardly alone: Apple said yesterday that half of iPhone users don’t set a passcode. But most companies require all employees to use some sort of password on any device that receives corporate email. Accessing an employee’s email account is often the first step toward a broader hack of a company’s network.

More to the point, using a passcode to lock your phone is a “no-brainer” security step that everyone should take, however inconvenient it may be. Tom Cochran, chief technology officer of Atlantic Media, which owns Quartz, recently put it this way:

Even though these are trivial changes, people still complain about the inconvenience placed on them. A similar argument would claim that seat belts are inconvenient. Like a car accident, being hacked is a low-probability, high-cost event.

Yahoo didn’t immediately respond to a phone call and email. Video of Mayer’s interview can be seen here. Luckily, the iPhone 5S starts shipping on September 20, so her data presumably won’t be left insecure for long.