Passwords — or rather, having to remember them — are a thorn in the side of any computer user, but they are a particular problem online. We are all reliant on passwords to some degree, whether it is for logging into Facebook, Twitter, securing an email account or accessing online banking. But passwords are not particularly secure, and there has long been a search to find a viable alternative.
Microsoft has now joined the FIDO Alliance (Fast IDentity Online) which is actively trying to develop a new authentication ecosystem that can be used in place of passwords. There are various methods that can be used including biometrics — such as fingerprints — PINs and two-factor authentication.
The group wants to create standards that can be used to create security devices and browser plugins that will help to reduce, although probably not completely eliminate, our reliance on passwords. Any attempt to replace the humble password has to be not only simple to use, but also cheap and easy to implement if it is to be widely adopted
FIDO proposes that a protocol be developed that will enable users to identify themselves using their voice, a device fitted with a chip, or some other unique element that it inherently more secure than a password that is easy intercepted and decrypted.
The group already has the backing of names such as Google and BlackBerry . President of FIDO, Michael Barrett said: “The Alliance is recognized as the foremost place to effect the changes needed to ensure future authentication that is simultaneously easier to use, more secure, and private. We welcome Microsoft to our board of directors and value the contributions that only Microsoft can make to benefit enterprises and users everywhere.”Further reading: Microsoft, Security