Security group plans for a future without passwords

The FIDO Alliance encourages stronger use of biometrics and hardware tokens instead of passwords to identify users

Having to remember multiple passwords may soon be a thing of the past.

Setting the stage for a password-free future, an industry consortium has issued a set of instructions that specify a number of alternate ways that computers and devices can confirm a user's identity. The FIDO (Fast IDentity Online) Alliance, which issued the specifications on Tuesday, is backed by a number of large companies in the IT and banking industries, including Microsoft, Google, PayPal, Bank of America, and MasterCard.

After two years of work, FIDO has issued the first fully completed drafts of two specifications - the Universal Authentication Framework (UAF) and Universal 2nd Factor (U2F). If widely deployed, these specifications could form the basis for securing online communications without using passwords, which are cumbersome and can pose security threats.

The two specifications describe procedures that systems can use to verify a person's identity. For instance, biometric sensors such as fingerprint readers could identify a user's identity. A portable hardware token, which can be carried about, could also be used to authenticate individuals.

Today, most users log on to secured online services using passwords, yet this approach remains problematic. More than 76 percent of online breaches exploit weak or stolen log-in credentials, according to a survey from Verizon. While other forms of authentication such as biometrics have long been available, there has been little industry consensus on how these security mechanisms should be implemented, leading to a fragmented and complex environment for online authentication management.

Members of the FIDO Alliance are now able to use these specifications to build security systems. Companies such as Google, PayPal, Samsung and Alibaba have already incorporated early drafts of the specifications into their products and services.

Now that it has finished the core specifications, the FIDO Alliance is working on a set of extensions that will incorporate additional forms of access security, such as establishing identities using Near Field Communications and Bluetooth wireless communications.

Joab Jackson covers enterprise software and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Follow Joab on Twitter at @Joab_Jackson. Joab's e-mail address is Joab_Jackson@idg.com

Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags BlackberryGooglesecuritybiometricsIdentity fraud / theft

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Joab Jackson

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Crucial Ballistix Elite 32GB Kit (4 x 8GB) DDR4-3000 UDIMM

Learn more >

Gadgets & Things

Lexar® Professional 1000x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards

Learn more >

Family Friendly

Lexar® JumpDrive® S57 USB 3.0 flash drive 

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Plox Star Wars Death Star Levitating Bluetooth Speaker

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

GGG Evaluation Team

Kathy Cassidy

STYLISTIC Q702

First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.

Anthony Grifoni

STYLISTIC Q572

For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.

Steph Mundell

LIFEBOOK UH574

The Fujitsu LifeBook UH574 allowed for great mobility without being obnoxiously heavy or clunky. Its twelve hours of battery life did not disappoint.

Andrew Mitsi

STYLISTIC Q702

The screen was particularly good. It is bright and visible from most angles, however heat is an issue, particularly around the Windows button on the front, and on the back where the battery housing is located.

Simon Harriott

STYLISTIC Q702

My first impression after unboxing the Q702 is that it is a nice looking unit. Styling is somewhat minimalist but very effective. The tablet part, once detached, has a nice weight, and no buttons or switches are located in awkward or intrusive positions.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?