Adafruit, one of the main distributors of Raspberry Pi single board computers, has mandated the use of two-factor authentication for some new hardware purchases. Why? Because machines are buying up hardware and making it harder for engineers or makers to get their hands on devices.
You can't currently buy the 1GB, 2GB, 4GB or 8GB Raspberry Pi variants from Adafruit because they are sold out, but the company is now requiring that all buyers use multi- or two-factor authentication (MFA/2FA) to order the Raspberry Pi because bots are outbidding humans for them.
"Please note! We are now requiring a verified account with two-factor authentication enabled in order to purchase certain high-demand products, such as Raspberry Pi computers, due to a large number of bot-purchasers making it difficult for Makers and Engineers to order these products," Adafruit says on its buyers' page.
"Please make sure you have a verified Adafruit account and enable two-factor authentication. Finally, you will need to sign out and back in to activate the account verification," it adds.
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In January, resellers of the Raspberry Pi in Australia, the US, Canada and the UK were reporting that Pi models were out of stock. Sellers were also inflating prices far above the usual $35 entry-level price.
At the time, Raspberry Pi chief Eben Upton told ZDNet that there were "roughly a million units being built in the first quarter" of 2022 and said that the situation with supply was more a "story of high demand than low supply".
As for Adafruit's extra security steps, Upton told ZDNet today that automated purchasing from bots is typical when supplies are short because some people want to profit from the situation by selling devices on at a higher price.
"Any time a product is in short supply you're going to see bots trying to grab stock to resell at a margin: graphic cards are the classic recent example of this. This is parasitic behaviour, and it's great to see people like Adafruit taking measures to stop it," he told ZDNet.
Adafruit says in a blogpost that it's trying to ensure that customers "have a chance to order these items at market prices without having to compete with bots."