Build 2019: Windows 10 Moves Toward Password-Free Future With FIDO2 Certification

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biometric fingerprint scanning

The move makes Microsoft’s 800 million active Windows 10 devices compatible with the WebAuthn standard for online biometric authentication

Microsoft has gained official FIDO2 certification for its Windows Hello biometric authentication system, in another step ahead in the company’s password-free plans.

The certification takes effect with Windows 10’s May 2019 update, which is set for release later this month.

It means that users can make use of biometric methods, such as a fingerprint or facial recognition, on any Windows 10 device to log into devices, software or services that supports the FIDO standard, including applications, networks and websites.

Windows Hello also supports the use of PINs.

Authentication

A core component of FIDO2 is the WebAuthn (Web Authentication) standard, which is widely supported by browsers including Firefox, Microsoft Edge and Google Chrome.

The standard allows users to log into a web service using an “authenticator” instead of a password.

FIDO2 certification means Windows Hello is now approved as an authenticator that can interact with the online world via WebAuthn.

The certification extends to the latest version of Mozilla Firefox running on the platform, Microsoft said, and will soon also support browsers based on Chromium, including Microsoft’s own Edge, which it is currently rebuilding on the Chromium engine.

Password hack

“People don’t like passwords because we have to remember them,” wrote Microsoft group programme manager Yogesh Mehta in a blog post.

“As a result, we often create passwords that are easy to guess – which makes them the first target for hackers trying to access your computer or network at work.

“We encourage companies and software developers to adopt a strategy for achieving a passwordless future and start today by supporting password alternatives – such as Windows Hello – for their users.”

He noted that there are currently more than 800 million active Windows 10 devices.

The announcement coincides with Microsoft’s Build 2019 developer conference in Seattle this week.

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