It’s a fact that ‘passwordless’ user authentication is not a new feature. Apple introduced their Touch ID back in 2013, which was revolutionary at the time. It was inevitable that some sort of Face authentication would exist some time in the future; the iPhone was released last year with introduction of Face ID. With both of these improvements in technology came a higher level of security, with less room for human error when storing or remembering passwords for manual password authentication. With this being said, Microsoft have announced today that they intend to cut passwords from the mix all together, and replace it with ‘passwordless’ user authentication.
Microsoft say their ‘passwordless’ user authentication will use biometrics, the Microsoft Authenticator app, or FIDO2-compatible device, and will be supported on; Outlook.com, Office365, Skype, OneDrive, Cortana, Microsoft Edge, Xbox Live on the PC, Mixer, the Microsoft Store, Bing, and MSN.com. However, Windows users will need Windows 10 (version 1809) to be able to use it. The Corporate Vice-President of Microsoft, Alex Simons, says that, “Every month, more than 800 million people use a Microsoft account to create, connect and share,” “Now they can benefit from this simple user experience and greatly improved security.”
The reason behind ‘passwordless’ user authentication is simple. There is a growing concern surrounding the level of security manual password authentication actually provides. In this day and age of extremely advanced technology, passwords are one of the only online security feature that has not changed since the very beginning, so they can definitely be viewed as outdated. We all have more passwords than we care to admit, and with the growing number of online services, people are having an extremely difficult time trying to remember all of their passwords that they have created over time, so they result to using the same password for multiple different services; which puts them in an extremely vulnerable position when it comes to hackers.
Although passwords can be seen to have their advantages; they’re simple, familiar, and cheap; but they’re just not secure enough with the every day growing threat from hackers. Password security is purely based on confidentiality and the strength of the password, so they are subject to human error constantly. Microsoft’s Corporate Vice-President, Alex Simons, says that, “Even though passwords were supposed to protect our digital belongings, it seems as though they have become the weakest link in the past few years”.
Microsoft ‘passwordless’ user authentication is available now.