06 May 2022

Google, Apple, Microsoft promise end to passwords, courtesy of your mobile phone

A future without passwords may be closer than we think, at least when a new initiative to enlist your smartphone as a mobile authenticator gets off the ground.

On Thursday, the FIDO Alliance - announced a new type of authentication that would use passkeys stored on your phone to unlock your online accounts without requiring a password. Google, Apple and Microsoft are all on board with the new method and have promised that their respective operating systems will support this technology.

Passwords have always been a poor way to secure our accounts. We’re constantly told to create a strong, complex and unique password for each account. But that’s a difficult task, leading many people to use weak and repetitive passwords, which can easily be compromised and used in data breaches and account takeovers. Such tools as password managers have provided some relief but still chain us to this clumsy and ineffective means of authentication.

With support from Google, Apple and Microsoft, the new authentication method will store a FIDO-based passkey on your mobile phone. That key will be encrypted to protect it from compromise and will be accessible only when you unlock your phone. When you try to sign into an app or website either on the phone itself, a nearby computer or other device, that passkey will automatically log you in regardless of the operating system or browser and without you having to enroll or re-enroll your device. If you switch to a new phone, your passkey will make the trip with you.


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