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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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Microsoft

Alex Simons, corporate VP of program management in Microsoft's Identity Division, says Microsoft believes it's very important to move the entire industry away from passwords and into a world of strong and simple-to-use forms of authentication.

Windows Hello serves as the first part of Microsoft's efforts to end passwords. Windows Hello lets people use a biometric or PIN to unlock a PC and access their apps and first-party cloud resources. The second part of Microsoft's passwordless approach is the Microsoft Authenticator app, which lets users on any platform (Mac, Chromebook, Android, iOS) use an app on their smartphones to sign in to their accounts without a password. Finally, with Microsoft's support for FIDO2, the software maker aims to work with the industry to deliver strong, easy-to-use, cross-platform passwordless authentication.

In a nutshell, FIDO2 consists of two standards: WebAuthn and CTAP (Client to Authenticator Protocol). WebAuthn functions as a browser-based API that lets Web applications authenticate users with public-key cryptography instead of passwords. WebAuthn supports user authentication with built-in authenticators, such as Microsoft Windows Hello, or a remote authenticator, like a cell phone or FIDO security key. CTAP allows remote authenticators to 'talk' to Web browsers. According to Andrew Shikiar, chief marketing officer of the FIDO Alliance, FIDO2 offers an open standard that can run on any device and website.

Microsoft was one of the first Fortune 500 companies to support passwordless authentication using the FIDO2 open standard, Simons adds.

Image Source: Microsoft

Microsoft

Alex Simons, corporate VP of program management in Microsoft's Identity Division, says Microsoft believes it's very important to move the entire industry away from passwords and into a world of strong and simple-to-use forms of authentication.

Windows Hello serves as the first part of Microsoft's efforts to end passwords. Windows Hello lets people use a biometric or PIN to unlock a PC and access their apps and first-party cloud resources. The second part of Microsoft's passwordless approach is the Microsoft Authenticator app, which lets users on any platform (Mac, Chromebook, Android, iOS) use an app on their smartphones to sign in to their accounts without a password. Finally, with Microsoft's support for FIDO2, the software maker aims to work with the industry to deliver strong, easy-to-use, cross-platform passwordless authentication.

In a nutshell, FIDO2 consists of two standards: WebAuthn and CTAP (Client to Authenticator Protocol). WebAuthn functions as a browser-based API that lets Web applications authenticate users with public-key cryptography instead of passwords. WebAuthn supports user authentication with built-in authenticators, such as Microsoft Windows Hello, or a remote authenticator, like a cell phone or FIDO security key. CTAP allows remote authenticators to "talk" to Web browsers. According to Andrew Shikiar, chief marketing officer of the FIDO Alliance, FIDO2 offers an open standard that can run on any device and website.

Microsoft was one of the first Fortune 500 companies to support passwordless authentication using the FIDO2 open standard, Simons adds.

Image Source: Microsoft

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ScottyTheMenace
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ScottyTheMenace,
User Rank: Apprentice
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
100%
0%
wibblewibble,
User Rank: Apprentice
5/30/2019 | 7:49:18 AM
SQRL
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