Are Passwords Going to Become a Thing of The Past?
Passwords have been the chief means of computer security practically since the beginning. Whether it’s something as sensitive as your bank account and stock portfolio, or as basic as your personal email account, a password is what keeps unwanted eyes from seeing your activity. Businesses have invested huge amounts of money in creating complicated, hard-to-hack password solutions that will keep them, their products, and their customers, safe from unwanted attention and activity.
However, according to Computer Weekly, there is a possibility that passwords are becoming obsolete. While it hasn’t happened yet, there is a concerted effort to evolve online security to the next level.
As much as we might complain about having to remember our passwords, we know why we have them. However, the idea of security that doesn’t use passwords is taking hold on the industry, and several, major companies are giving the concept a lot of serious thought, time, and money. Companies like Microsoft and Google are leading the pack on this, but others like Samsung, Lenovo, PayPal, Visa, and Mastercard are also on board with the quest to find the next stage of online security evolution.
To that end, these companies have joined together into an organization called the Fast Identity Online Alliance, or FIDO for short.
What Is FIDO’s Goal?
In short, FIDO and all of the companies (and governments) involved want to find something more reliable than password security. While passwords are fine for what they are, there are simply too many weaknesses to them. They can be hacked, they have to be changed any time something happens, and while they’re better than having no security at all, everyone agrees that it can be a huge pain attempting to remember a dozen passwords just to be able to access all of your technology.
So what’s the big idea? Interoperable authentication standards.
What does that mean? Well, in practical terms, it means that more of the security work is going to be done behind the scenes, instead of by the users. So, instead of every user needing to remember a name and password to, say, access email, the access will be determined based on the electronic communication happening over the wires. You won’t need to do anything, because your device or program will do the talking for you.
While the theory of operating without passwords is sound, we don’t have any break-out success stories regarding new advances just yet. So, while there is definitely a possibility that the future will have no room for passwords except for antiquated companies who haven’t updated yet (sort of like how fewer and fewer businesses accept paper job applications every year), that day has definitely not arrived yet.
With that said, though, FIDO is drawing a surprising number of heavy hitters from the business world, as well as from international governments like the United States and United Kingdom. With that much power, money, interest, and technological skill all working toward a single goal, the idea that passwords may be left behind doesn’t sound as ludicrous as it otherwise might.
Is it possible that FIDO will find a way to create new authentication standards that can replace current reliance on passwords, and that these standards will be widely adopted across platforms? Sure it’s possible, particularly with the resources being dedicated to the endeavor. However, it isn’t going to be quick or easy, which is why for the time being companies, governments, and individuals should make sure they keep their passwords secure. You’re still going to need them for the foreseeable future.
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