Microsoft Replaces Passwords With More Secure Biometrics In Windows 10
Maintaining identity of individuals in computing world is one of the greatest challenges faced by security experts. In an attempt to create a safe environment across Internet and computers, Microsoft has announced that Windows 10 will support FIDO ((Fast Identification Online) standard, with plans to have eye-scanning and fingerprint scanning capabilities on all devices in the future.
FIDO is a non-profit organization which aims to set standards for secure authentications, and to eliminate the use of passwords, which is firstly a headache for people as they have to remember multiple passwords for multiple services, and secondly these are not safe anymore.
Microsoft has stated the removal of passwords as a “top priority” as the company is investing in cyber-security efforts along with Google, PayPal, and Bank of America, who are also the supporters of FIDO.
“Transitioning away from passwords and to a stronger form of identity is one of the great challenges that we face in online computing, and we believe FIDO authentication, which is the subject of great discussion here at the White House summit, is the pathway to success,” mentioned Microsoft in a blog post announcing the support for FIDO in Windows 10.
Microsoft has contributed to the design of FIDO 2.0 specifications and these are currently supported in Windows 10 Technical Preview. Members who signed up for Windows Insider Program can evaluate these techniques right away.
These new additions to Windows 10 make authentication and user identity effectively un-hackable. FIDO provides two-factor user experience:
- Passwordless Experience – Supported by Universal Authentication Framework (UAF) protocol, this mechanism allows the user to register their device using authentication mechanisms such as swiping a finger, speaking into a mic, entering PIN etc.
When authenticating, the user simply needs to repeat the mechanism that they provided while registering, hence never needing to enter a password.
- Second Factor Experience – Supported by Universal Second Factor (U2F) protocol, this mechanism uses a U2F device that user carries with themselves to authenticate them.
In simpler words, FIDO uses combinations of public key and secret key cryptography, biometrics, dongle and some other techniques to provide much safer authentication mechanism than what we have today. Hence it would save consumers from frustration of being hacked or getting their identity stolen.
FIDO alliance has attracted almost all big tech companies who are contributing towards creating a safer Internet and digital world. The only big name missing from the alliance is Apple, who has its own approach to biometric authentication — the TouchID.
With this feature added to Windows 10, the users will be able to access “Windows devices and Microsoft-owned and partner SaaS services supported by Azure Active Directory authentication” without entering a password.