science

Fury at Netflix crackdown on password sharing as text codes introduced


Netflix users are taking to social media to vent their rage following the streaming service’s crackdown on password sharing. 

Some Netflix are now seeing a screen saying ‘If you don’t live with the owner of this account, you need your own account to keep watching’.

They’re then prompted to enter a code that’s been texted or emailed to the account owner to continue – which could cause a problem if they’re not in contact with them. 

Viewers can delay the verification and keep watching Netflix, but may see the alert again next time they open the app. 

Those Netflix users who have seen the alert have been going into meltdown on Twitter, with one saying rival Disney+ had ‘won the streaming wars’. 

However, security experts have applauded the move for promoting online safety, by reducing the likelihood that credit card details could fall into the wrong hands. 

According to a 2019 study, Netflix, which has just implemented a price hike, may be losing out on up to $192 million worth of revenue each month from password sharing. 

The test comes shortly after Netflix hiked up its subscription fees by up to £24-a-year.

The firm announced it was increasing its standard package – which allows two screens to access an account, as well as HD – by £1 per month, from £8.99 to £9.99, in January.

The dreaded alert is appearing on people's TVs and devices. This user said 'it happened to me yesterday' with a crying emoji

The dreaded alert is appearing on people’s TVs and devices. This user said ‘it happened to me yesterday’ with a crying emoji 

Another Twitter user said rival Disney+ had 'won the streaming wars'. Disney+ has just introduced a new channel featuring a wide range of content for older viewers

Another Twitter user said rival Disney+ had ‘won the streaming wars’. Disney+ has just introduced a new channel featuring a wide range of content for older viewers

NETFLIX USERS SLAM ‘GREEDY’ PRICE HIKE

Netflix users have slammed the ‘greed’ of the streaming giant for hiking subscription fees by up to £24-a-year.

The firm announced it was increasing its standard package – which allows two screens to access an account, as well as HD – by £1 per month, from £8.99 to £9.99, in January.

The premium package – providing four-screen access per account and Ultra HD – is bumped up by £2, from £11.99 to £13.99.

Netflix said the price hikes are essential to reflect the ‘significant investments’ it has made in new TV shows and films.

However, the move has angered many, with users rushing to vent their frustration on social media.

The number of households in the UK subscribing to Netflix grew to reach more than 15 million in the third quarter of 2020, according to Statista.

About 33 per cent of Netflix users share their passwords with at least one other person, according to research firm Magid. 

With this initiative, Netflix seems to be encouraging users to pay for their own account – potentially leading to more revenue for the company. 

One critic on Twitter said: ‘They’re getting too greedy… on top of raising prices for mediocre content… if they continue doing this they’re gonna crash.’ 

Another said: ‘Imagine logging into your friend’s account and Netflix saying move in with them or get a job.’

Another bitterly tweeted: ‘For a streaming service that keeps some good stuff up for like 2.2 minutes they got a lot of nerve.’

Someone else pointed out that the backlash could drive people off the service: ‘This is stupid and unnecessary, you are going to harm your company by doing stupid s**t like this,’ they tweeted. 

Netflix, the world’s largest streaming service with 200 million global subscribers, is known for hit shows like The Crown, Bridgerton and The Queen’s Gambit, all fuelled by its own production company. 

However, it’s increasingly facing competition from the likes of Dinsey+, which rolled out a new channel last month featuring a wide range of content for older viewers and show it’s not just tailored for children.  

 

Other rivals include Amazon Prime Video, as well as Now TV and BritBox in the UK and NBCUniversal’s Peacock and A&T’s HBO Max in the US. 

Another Twitter user indicated they’d be switching from Netflix to the latter: ‘HBO here we go.’ 

A Netflix spokesperson confirmed MailOnline that they are testing the alert and therefore not every Netflix user will see it. 

 

NETFLIX HITS 200M SUBSCRIBERS

In January, Netflix announced it had reached 200 million subscribers worldwide.

The streaming giant added about 8.5 million paid subscribers in the quarter prior to reach 203 million, topping 200 million despite recent price hikes, its quarterly earning update showed.

‘Covid-19 has accelerated that big shift from linear to streaming entertainment,’ Netflix chief financial officer Spencer Neumann said on an earnings call.

‘So, the underlying long-term looks good.’

The company’s cash flow was so strong that it will no longer borrow money to pay for operations, and it is considering starting to buy back shares, according to a letter to investors.

Netflix shares jumped more than 12 per cent in after-market trades following the release.

Profits dipped to $542 million in the fourth quarter, compared with $587 million in the same period in 2019. But overall revenue in the quarter surged 21.5 percent to $6.6 billion.

For the full year, Netflix added a record 37 million paid memberships, according to the earnings report.

Source: AFP

It’s being tested in a number of countries, which Netflix wouldn’t disclose. The firm plans to evaluate the results of the test before making any other decisions, the spokesperson also said. 

The multi-billion-dollar firm wants to make sure people using Netflix accounts are authorised to do so by the account holder, as per Netflix’s terms of use.

‘This test is designed to help ensure that people using Netflix accounts are authorised to do so,’ said a Netflix spokesperson. 

The alert, which appears when users open the app, reads: ‘Start your own Netflix for free today.’ Under that it says ‘If you don’t live with the owner of this account, you need your own account to keep watching.’ 

A button underneath says ‘Join free for 30 Days’ – which is the firm’s window for new subscribers before they start having to pay. 

Under the button it asks ‘Is this your account?’ and ‘We’ll send you a verification code’ with three options – ‘Email Code’, ‘Text Code’ and ‘Verify Later’, for people who want to put off the issue. 

If the person who sees the alert and gets emailed or texted the code is the account owner, this shouldn’t be too much of a problem.

However, for people who don’t own the account it will be more of an issue.

If they want the alert to disappear they’ll have to get in touch with the account owner, who could be someone in another household, or even someone they’re no longer in touch with. 

This means Netflix account owners may, for example, start receiving messages from an ex-boyfriend asking them to share the code that was sent to their email address. 

Netflix is essentially looking to stamp out password sharing. The firm has historically ignored password sharing, since strong growth in subscribers and the company’s steady stock price have offset concerns about lost revenue.

But it seems Netflix doesn’t see any harm in starting test this measure, which may or may not be implemented more widely.

The message reads: 'Start your own Netflix for free today.' Netflix asks 'Is this your account?' and 'We'll send you a verification code' with three options - 'Email Code', 'Text Code' and 'Verify Later'. Viewers can delay the verification and keep watching Netflix. But the message may reappear when they open Netflix again

The message reads: ‘Start your own Netflix for free today.’ Netflix asks ‘Is this your account?’ and ‘We’ll send you a verification code’ with three options – ‘Email Code’, ‘Text Code’ and ‘Verify Later’. Viewers can delay the verification and keep watching Netflix. But the message may reappear when they open Netflix again

Netflix could potentially go a step further with the alert by not letting users access content unless they’ve entered the code. As it stands, users can put off dealing with the alert by clicking ‘Verify Later’. 

Password sharing can also be a security risk – once you share your password with one person, it can potentially be shared to someone else who you don’t know, and someone else again, creating a bigger risk of having personal details compromised each time.  

The best practice for Netflix users, therefore, is to change their password regularly – and avoid sharing passwords, according to security experts.   

‘We ran some research that found that over a quarter of people surveyed had willingly given away their passwords to someone else,’ said Jake Moore, a cybersecurity specialist at ESET.

Netflix, the world's largest streaming service with 200 million global subscribers, constantly tests new features with users

Netflix, the world’s largest streaming service with 200 million global subscribers, constantly tests new features with users

PASSWORD SECURITY TIPS 

 – Never share passwords with anyone else

–  Change passwords about every three months    

– Don’t use the same password for every account. 

– Keep all passwords unique

–  Ensure individual passwords remain random and obscure

– Never reuse passwords 

– Set up two-factor authentication (2FA) if possible  

‘This may not sound worrying when you know the other party with whom you are sharing the password – but what if they pass it on to someone without thinking?

‘However, it is unrealistic to expect that people are going to stop sharing their accounts completely, so my advice would be to regularly change your passwords in order to flush out anyone who has gained access over the last year who shouldn’t have. 

‘Creating complex passwords, combined with a password manager, will reduce your risk of compromise.’  

Moore also noted the dangers of using the same password for multiple accounts on the same email address, as the risk of an account getting hacked increases. 

Meanwhile, security company McAfee told MailOnline that Netflix’s crackdown is a stark reminder that ‘password hygiene is more important than ever’. 

The firm said passwords should never be shared with anyone else, not even trusted family and friends. 

McAfee chief scientist Raj Samani called Netflix’s move ‘a good step forward in online safety’ – although Netflix has not made it clear whether it’s been motivated by internet security as opposed to profit. 

‘Passwords should never be shared with anyone else,’ Samani said. ‘It might seem harmless to share as password for a streaming site with friends or a loved one, but sharing any password for any account could result in critical personal information falling into the wrong hands. 

‘It can be easy to take them for granted and forget the basics of password hygiene during our busy lives, particularly now as we have so many accounts to keep on top in order to get on with our day-to-day activities.’  

Netflix plans. The firm says: 'Only people who live with you may use your account. Watch on 4 different devices at the same time with Premium, 2 with Standard and 1 with Basic.'

Netflix plans. The firm says: ‘Only people who live with you may use your account. Watch on 4 different devices at the same time with Premium, 2 with Standard and 1 with Basic.’

The move to clamp down on password sharing came after Netflix announced a hike in fees last month, now in effect for users, which also riled users on social media

The company’s standard plan went up from £8.99 to £9.99 ($12.99 to $13.99) a month, and allows users to watch Netflix on two screens simultaneously.  

A premium account, which lets users watch on four different devices at the same time and offers HDR, has gone from £11.99 to £13.99 ($15.99 to $17.99).

Meanwhile, its basic plan, which only allows users to watch Netflix on one screen simultaneously, remains at £5.99 ($8.99).   

The hikes were announced back in October for new subscribers, while existing subscribers saw their fees increase in February.

Netflix said they were essential to reflect the ‘significant investments’ it has made in original TV shows and films. 

Netflix announced earlier this year that the company topped 200 million global subscribers.

WHAT ARE THE VIDEO STREAMING OPTIONS AVAILABLE TO UK CUSTOMERS?

Netflix 

Price: From £5.99 a month  

Hit shows: 

  • The Crown 
  • Stranger Things  

Amazon Prime 

Price: £7.99 per month OR £79 per year

Hit shows: 

  • Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan
  • The Man in the High Castle  

Apple TV+

Price: £4.99 a month 

Hit shows

  • The Morning Show 
  • See  

Disney+

Price: £5.99 a month OR £59.99 a year

Hit shows:

  • The Mandalorian 
  • The Simpsons  

NOW TV

Price: From £8.99 a month

Hit shows: 

  • Game of Thrones 
  • Chernobyl  

hayu 

Price: £4.99 a month

Hit shows: 

  • Keeping up with the Kardashians
  • Made in Chelsea  

BritBox

Price: £5.99 a month 

Hit shows: 

  • Fawlty Towers 
  • Midsomer Murders  



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