A new open web standard called WebAuthn wants to banish passwords from the internet by relying instead on biometrics and USB tokens, and Firefox, Chrome and Edge will all support it in the coming months.
Passwords might have been necessary in the early stages of the internet, but the lazier we become, the less useful they get.
We all know that using the same password for every single site is a terrible idea, but unless you sort yourself out and install a decent password manager (and let’s be honest, you really should), it’s impossible to remember that many passwords.
An alternative is needed, and WebAuthn could be just that, reports The Verge. Developed by the W3C and the FIDO Alliance, the standard makes it easy for sites to allow users to log into them using either biometrics or a USB token like those produced by Yubikey. In theory, this means you could arrive at your online store of choice, and so long as your personal USB stick is plugged into your machine you could gain access without needing to remember a password at all.
Alternatively, a service might choose to use this authentication as a second layer of security in addition to a password.
Facebook and Google already implement such services, but what this standard means is that it should be much easier for smaller sites to implement them in the future.
That’s important, as it’s smaller sites with less security resources that tend to be more vulnerable to attacks. Most people will reuse passwords between small and big sites, and if someone is able to get this password from an insecure site then this immediately gives them access to your more important accounts if the password is the same.
It will still take a little bit of time for the standard to become commonplace across the web, but with Firefox supporting the standard already, and Chrome and Edge support rolling out in the coming months, the days of the password could finally be behind us soon.
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