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There’s Been Another Step Towards Passwordless Authentication

There’s Been Another Step Towards Passwordless Authentication

January 27, 2023

While at the moment, passwords are an important part of your security stack, it is important to acknowledge that the concept of the password was always a flawed system and is overdue to be replaced. This may become a widespread reality sooner than you may expect, too, especially with the buy-in that the big names in tech are demonstrating.

Let’s consider a recent step that one of these big names recently took that shows particular promise for a passwordless future.

Enter the Passkey, and Google’s Embrace of It

The concept of a passkey is a simple one—basically, it’s another stored credential, but in this case, it is stored on the device and is exchanged with the website directly. This way, all obligations for the user to remember any credentials is eliminated.

The passkey is, on almost all counts, a superior means of authentication—and it’s all because it eliminates the need for a password text box at all. Instead of relying on the user to provide a form of authentication, passkeys are automatically generated and are inherently more secure than any user-generated form of authentication.

The trouble is, in order for passkeys to work, support for them will need to become standard. As in, every website, every browser, and every password manager will need to implement them. In addition to this, passkeys will require the user to have their phone handy and to use a Bluetooth connection to allow the phone to talk to the device in use. This localization, while helping protect your accounts, will also eliminate the capability of most desktops to utilize it.

Google, and Many Others, are Enthusiastic about Passkeys

Apple, Google, the FIDO Alliance, and Microsoft have all put their support behind the idea, with Google launching betas on both Chrome and Android, and iOS version 16 implementing it.

Google’s beta—which you can sign up for through Play Services—allows you to create passkeys on your Android devices, and passkeys are now supported in Chrome Canary, with more stable versions promised soon.

Google’s plan is to utilize its Password Manager to store these passkeys. The mobile device will have the user pick the correct account, then use a biometric proof to authenticate their identity. The phone will send over the authentication via Bluetooth, the browser sends the passkey to the website, and you’re in. Of course, if you’re actively logging in to something on your phone, the Bluetooth step is skipped.

We look forward to seeing how this technology develops and the prospect of using it as a means of potentially simplifying user authentication, without shortchanging security as a result. While there’s still some work to be done, the promise is there. In the meantime, reach out to us at (571) 470-5594 to find out how we can help you manage your current cybersecurity and user authentication needs.

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