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Stina Ehrensvärd. Photo provided by Yubico.

Google’s Anti-Phishing Frenemy Opens Door to Acquisition

Photo: Stina Ehrensvärd. Photo provided by Yubico.

A streaming TV show about cybersecurity may not sound like must-see TV, but Yubico, a low-profile maker of computer security keys used by big tech firms and big banks to protect against phishing attacks, is optimistic about the project’s potential. The company has been developing a series about the biggest cybersecurity breaches of the past two decades, in hopes of educating consumers on cybersecurity standards—and why its little hardware dongles are necessary.

Two leading video-streaming services have expressed interest in the TV series, said CEO Stina Ehrensvard via email, declining to name them. But winning over consumers won’t necessarily help Yubico. They can buy the little keys, which plug into computers, but unless their bank, insurance firm or money manager incorporates Yubico’s keys into its security standards, consumers can’t use them. And while Google and other big tech firms are heavy promoters of Yubico’s keys—although Google also sells its own keys—Ehrensvard acknowledged in an interview this week that adoption from sectors such as banking had not been “as fast as I expected.” Many companies still prefer to stick to password-based security methods.

Possibly reacting to that slow progress, Ehrensvard appears to have become more open to selling the company, saying Yubico could achieve its mission as part of a bigger company. Early last year, she had said she wanted to remain independent. “I am open to both possibilities,” she said this week.

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