Windows 10 kills off passwords with official FIDO2 certification

Microsoft bags another record by gaining the official FIDO2 certification for Windows Hello, the Windows 10 biometric authentication system.

The certification is applicable to Windows 10 version 1903 or the May 2019 update that is scheduled for a public release later this month. The Windows Hello offers its users access to their Windows 10-compatible devices by using fingerprint or facial-recognition sensors.

Yogesh Mehta, group manager for Microsoft's crypto, identity and authentication team in Azure Core OS commented that most users are not very fond of passwords and usually create easy-to-guess codes. Unfortunately, these types of passwords are not only easy to remember but also easily predicted by the cyber hackers.

Windows 10 users can expect to see the FIDO Certified logos on their PCs soon. They can log in to the upgraded version using the FIDO2 standard.

The certification is part of the industry-wide initiative taken by tech companies to support password-less sign-in. The companies included in the WebAuthn or Web Authentication WC3 standards include Mozilla Firefox, Microsoft Edge, and Google Chrome. Preview support in Apple Safari and Chrome on Android are also officially certified for FIDO2.

With the new login method, the users can register and authenticate their identity using an ‘authenticator’ instead of a password. The authenticator can be anything from a hardware security key to a biometric ID.

The WebAuthn was officially endorsed in March while the Windows 10 1903 FIDO 2 certification extends beyond Microsoft own software. For example, if you are a Windows 10 user who prefers Mozilla Firefox – then you will be able to login to their accounts and other FIDO-compatible sites using Microsoft Hello. Users of Microsoft Chromium-based Edge can also avail the same feature soon.

The Microsoft sites that the user could utilize to sign in with Hello include, Skype, Office 365, Cortana, OneDrive, Microsoft Edge, Xbox Live on PC, Bing, MSN, and Microsoft Store. The service would be applicable on all browsers - Edge, Chrome, and Firefox.

However, many online vendors are convinced that the Hello technology might not be as secure as touted to be. In fact, UK banking group Lloyds recently announced that it has no intention to support Windows Hello for its online transactions.

Photo: spooh / Getty Images

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