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Authentication

5/28/2019
12:00 PM
Steve Zurier
Steve Zurier
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8 Ways to Authenticate Without Passwords

Passwordless authentication has a shot at becoming more ubiquitous in the next few years. We take a look at where things stand at the moment.
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Image Source: Adobe Stock- Denys Prykhodov

Image Source: Adobe Stock- Denys Prykhodov

So are we finally doing this? Are we finally moving to passwordless authentication?

Microsoft and Google have been pushing this aggressively over the past several months, and Apple has been a major player by being the first out of the box with fingerprint authentication on the iPhone. Most PCs and Mac laptops now offer Touch ID, so inside of a year or two people can use them for passwordless authentication, too.

The industry largely views passwords as outdated and one of the major causes of breaches. According to the Verizon's "2019 Data Breach Investigations Report," more than 80% of breaches leverage stolen or weak passwords. That's why the industry has been pushing for open standards, such as FIDO (Fast Identity Online), which would help security teams and developers more readily deploy passwordless authentication. The FIDO Alliance, which was founded by next-generation authentication company Nok Nok Labs, PayPal, Lenovo, Validity Sensors, Infineon, and Agnitio, first began its development of the passwordless authentication protocol in 2012.

Recent research by Ant Allan, a Gartner analyst who focuses on passwordless authentication, predicts that by 2022, 60% of large and global enterprises and 90% of midsize enterprises will implement passwordless methods in more than 50% of use cases — up from 5% in 2018.

To be sure, vendors have taken notice. Here are eight of the leading passwordless authentication approaches and a look at what needs to happen moving forward.

 

Steve Zurier has more than 30 years of journalism and publishing experience, most of the last 24 of which were spent covering networking and security technology. Steve is based in Columbia, Md. View Full Bio

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ScottyTheMenace
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ScottyTheMenace,
User Rank: Strategist
6/6/2019 | 5:46:08 PM
Touch ID is not passwordless
Not sure if it was your intent to suggest that it was, but Apple's Touch ID is not passwordless.

In iOS, you still have to set a passcode, and it seems to be the passcode that actually unlocks your device. All Touch ID does is use your fingerprint to fill the passcode into the field. (I don't know the technical details to know that's the case, but it sure seems like that's what's happening.) You're also forced to use the passcode seemingly at random (though it's probably time delimited) and to activate Touch ID after a restart.

I love using Touch ID—it's quite convenient—but its dependence on a typed passcode actually encourages users to use weak passcodes that are easily remembered since they'll eventually need to type it in, and typing the passcode* 984ELBMYAq[[email protected]%t5sM+5{j=9AYH__4jqDr on a touch keyboard is not real fun.

 

* Generated just now. Not any of my passwords. C'mon now, do I look that dumb? DON'T ANSWER THAT!
wibblewibble
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wibblewibble,
User Rank: Apprentice
5/30/2019 | 7:49:18 AM
SQRL
Don't forget SQRL! https://www.grc.com/sqrl/sqrl.htm
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