Google Introduces Passkeys as a More Secure Alternative to Passwords
Google has announced the launch of passkeys, a new way for users to sign in to apps and websites. The feature, which is already available for Google accounts, replaces traditional passwords with a fingerprint, face scan, or screen lock PIN. Passkeys are said to be more secure than passwords as they are resistant to online attacks such as phishing. Google plans to promote passkeys in the coming months and nudge account holders to convert their traditional username and password login to a passkey. Other companies such as PayPal, Shopify, and Docusign have already deployed some level of support for passkeys.
Password-based security is one of the biggest security problems businesses face. Poor password hygiene, reuse, weak and stolen credentials have plagued organisations for years, exposing them to significant threats and attacks including account takeovers, data breaches, and stolen identities. Dashlane, one of the most popular password management apps, has done away with its so-called master password in favour of a new password-free solution. The new system will rely on biometrics or a PIN code to authenticate users, eliminating the master password that must be guarded from the world.
The newest standard for passkeys was developed by the FIDO Alliance, a consortium consisting of technology giants such as Google, Apple, and Microsoft. The alliance unveiled its passkey initiative in 2022 with the goal of achieving a future without passwords. Google's endorsement of passkeys signifies a significant stride towards the ultimate objective of eliminating passwords, which is a gradual process expected to take a few years. Additionally, startups like Hanko are developing passkey technologies. Additionally, 1Password has become a member of the FIDO Alliance and has been diligently incorporating passkey assistance.
While passkeys are new, some sites beat Google with login support. Companies offering passkey login include eBay, Docusign, PayPal and Shopify. However, passkey implementation can get messy, with Microsoft and Apple also supporting passkeys. Passkeys created cannot be shared across each company’s platforms, meaning users may find themselves creating several passkeys for a single Google account, depending on what browsers and operating systems they use across their devices.
According to Google, the transition to passkeys will require some time, and therefore, conventional passwords and two-step verification will continue to function for Google Accounts. “While we encourage users to try out the convenience and security of passkeys, other methods like passwords and 2SV will still work across Google Accounts,” said Christiaan Brand and Sriram Karra, two Google executives who oversaw the project. Passkeys are said to be the beginning of the end for passwords.
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