Technology companies Apple, Google and Microsoft announced plans to expand support for a common passwordless sign-in standard created by the FIDO Alliance and the World Wide Web Consortium. The new capability will allow websites and apps to offer consistent, secure, and easy passwordless sign-ins to consumers across devices and platforms.
“Ubiquity and usability are critical to seeing multi-factor authentication adopted at scale, and we applaud Apple, Google, and Microsoft for helping make this objective a reality by committing to support this user-friendly innovation in their platforms and products,” said Andrew Shikiar, executive director and CMO of the FIDO Alliance. “This new capability stands to usher in a new wave of low-friction FIDO implementations alongside the ongoing and growing utilization of security keys – giving service providers a full range of options for deploying modern, phishing-resistant authentication.”
Managing multiple passwords on multiple websites or apps has always been an issue for users that, often, they use the same password on different sites or recycle passwords.
The expanded standards-based capabilities will give websites and apps the ability to offer an end-to-end passwordless option. Users will sign in through the same action that they take multiple times each day to unlock their devices, such as a simple verification of their fingerprint or face, or a device PIN. This new approach promises to protect against phishing, and sign-in will be radically more secure when compared to passwords and legacy multi-factor technologies such as one-time passcodes sent over SMS.
Sign-ins on websites, devices
Hundreds of technology companies and service providers from around the world worked within the FIDO Alliance and W3C to create passwordless sign-in standards that are already supported in billions of devices and all modern web browsers. Apple, Google, and Microsoft have led the development of this expanded set of capabilities and are now building support into their respective platforms.
These companies’ platforms already support FIDO Alliance standards to enable passwordless sign-in on billions of industry-leading devices, but previous implementations require users to sign into each website or app with each device before they can use passwordless functionality. Today’s announcement extends these platform implementations to give users two new capabilities for more seamless and secure passwordless sign-ins:
- Allow users to automatically access their FIDO sign-in credentials (referred to by some as a “passkey”) on many of their devices, even new ones, without having to re-enroll every account.
- Enable users to use FIDO authentication on their mobile device to sign-in to an app or website on a nearby device, regardless of the OS platform or browser they are running.
In addition to facilitating a better user experience, the broad support of this standards-based approach will enable service providers to offer FIDO credentials without needing passwords as an alternative sign-in or account recovery method.
These new capabilities are expected to become available across Apple, Google, and Microsoft platforms over the course of the coming year.
“The complete shift to a passwordless world will begin with consumers making it a natural part of their lives. Any viable solution must be safer, easier, and faster than the passwords and legacy multi-factor authentication methods used today,” says Alex Simons, corporate vice president, Identity Program Management at Microsoft. “By working together as a community across platforms, we can at last achieve this vision and make significant progress toward eliminating passwords. We see a bright future for FIDO-based credentials in both consumer and enterprise scenarios and will continue to build support across Microsoft apps and services.”