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Vulnerabilities / Threats

7/18/2016
11:19 AM
Rutrell Yasin
Rutrell Yasin
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Locking Down Windows 10: 6 New Features

The latest version of Windows includes expanded identity and access controls, advanced Bitlocker encryption, and new malware protections.
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Identity and Access Control: Windows Hello and Microsoft Passport

Passport and Hello are Microsofts attempt to go passwordless. Microsoft Passport provides strong two-factor authentication (2FA), is fully integrated into Windows, and replaces passwords with the combination of an enrolled device and either a PIN or Windows Hello, Microsoft says. Similar to smart cards, but more flexible, Microsoft Passport uses an asymmetric key pair instead of a string comparison to perform authentication. The users key material can be secured by hardware. It also doesnt require extra infrastructure components required for smart card deployment such as public key infrastructure (PKI). If an organization already uses PKI in secure email or virtual private network authentication, users can use the existing infrastructure with Microsoft Passport.

Windows Hello is the new biometric sign-in option for Microsoft Passport. Biometric authentication is built directly into the operating system, allowing Windows Hello users to unlock their devices by using their face or fingerprint. From there, authentication to the devices and resources is enabled through a combination of the users unique biometric identifier and the device itself, Microsoft says. The users biometric data that is used for Windows Hello is considered a local gesture and consequently doesnt roam among a users devices and is not centrally stored.

The biometric image of the user the sensor takes is converted into an algorithmic form that cannot be converted back into the original image that the sensor took. Devices that have Trusted Platform Module 2.0 encrypt the biometric data in a form that makes it unreadable if the data is ever removed from the device. If multiple users share a device, each user will be able to enroll and use Windows Hello for his or her Windows profile.

However, Bromiums Crosby is somewhat skeptical about Microsoft Hellos utility in the enterprise, and it has limitation in all contexts. Windows Hello is about trying to get rid of passwords, which is an awesome step forward. Using biometrics to unlock the device is valuable to enterprises and consumers, he says. However, after logging onto the device, the users still type in username passwords to logon to websites. So it is not single-sign on for the masses.

A long term goal is probably to have a Microsoft identity, something like a Microsoft Azure Active Directory identity, that would be users identity online and they could use it to sign onto multiple websites such as Salesforce, SAP, or Facebook, Crosby says.

Microsoft is not there yet. Even though Microsoft is trying to get rid of passwords, all they have done initially and I laud them for their efforts is to get rid of passwords required to get on to the device, Crosby says. When the device talks to a Windows-centric enterprise infrastructure, users dont have to further use the passwords. But in a world of diverse applications, Microsoft cant currently enforce uniformity of identity and access across different domains.

Image Source: Google Image

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