A Future Without Passwords

A Future Without PasswordsApple, Google, and Microsoft are on the road to eliminating passwords for all online services. The three tech giants committed to adding or enabling the technology needed to allow users to choose their phone as the main authentication device for websites and digital services. A user would be able to unlock their smartphone, as they do now, with a PIN, face ID, or fingerprint, and that action would take the place of entering a password on a website. The authentication would work through a cryptographic token called a passkey. The new authentication method would also make phishing more difficult because login would require a physical device.

Passwords are an ineffective way to authenticate for a service. Users are bad at password management. About 25% of people re-use passwords, and an equal 25% use weak, easily guessable passwords. But we can relate to these users. Passwords are a pain, and we are expected to remember a different password for every service. There are password managers, but they have  low usage rates because users don’t know what they are, or don’t trust them.

The FIDO (Fast Identity Online) Alliance is the group behind the higher-level authentication technology. To maximize adoption FIDO was looking for something end-users already have and making the process as user-friendly as possible. The FIDO Alliance takes authentication out of the hands of the individual service and moves it to a higher-level security mechanism.

“This shift from letting every service fend for themselves with their own password-based authentication system to relying on the higher security of the platforms’ authentication mechanisms, is how we can meaningfully reduce the Internet’s over-reliance on passwords at a massive scale,” FIDO said.

The FIDO Alliance has been working on a password-free workflow for a decade now. This latest announcement is the largest step we have seen in the quest to zero passwords.

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Posted by Charles Wright