A Look Inside Microsoft’s Passwordless Future

It may seem like a distant dream, but a passwordless future is closer than you think. Can you imagine? A future where hackers will be unable to hack your accounts because there are no credentials to steal. Crediting advancements in biometric and FIDO2 security keys, the future of passwordless authentication is now.

Microsoft recently announced that its users can now remove passwords from their accounts and securely sign in with Windows Hello, the Microsoft Authenticator mobile app, or a verification code sent to a phone or email account instead. Following Microsoft’s earlier move to enable general availability for its passwordless solutions to commercial users, this brings passwordless solutions to enterprise organizations globally.

What the Push for a Passwordless Push Can Mean for Your Business

While password management may be a small, day-to-day matter, it has a tremendous impact on your business. According to the 2021 Data Breach Investigations Report by Verizon Enterprise Solutions, passwords caused over 89 percent of web application breaches, either through the use of stolen credentials or brute force attacks (rapid-fire educated guesses).

A look into someone’s public social media account can give bad actors a head start on determining someone’s credentials for personal accounts. Once the credentials have been compromised, they can be sold on the dark web for use in a variety of attacks.

Passwords represent a significant part of your business’s cybersecurity risk. Passwords also represent a major part of your IT budget. Nearly half of IT help desk calls are related to password concerns. How much could your business save if no one used passwords?

How Does Passwordless Login Work?

At the core of passwordless authentication is multi-factor authentication. Multifactor authentication requires two key components to work: a public key and a private key. If you want to use a passwordless system, you will need an application like Microsoft’s Windows Hello. After you create an account in this system, a key will be generated for you.

You will no longer have to worry about user names or using different passwords for every site or application. You will have the ability to access your accounts and files with a biometric or PIN gesture. From a security perspective, it can be a major relief because you can wipe out so many security threats. A major pain point for users is regularly having to change passwords without having the support needed to make it a simple and safe task. From a convenience perspective, passwordless systems will eliminate this pain point.

How Is Passwordless Different From MFA?

You may be wondering what is the difference between going passwordless and using other forms of Multi-factor Authentication like SSO ( single sign-on)? For example, Multi-factor Authentication can be used through Software as a Service (SaaS) solutions like Microsoft Office 365, whether you are using your work device or not. Most passwordless systems are tied to the devices, such as your personal devices and the devices you have been issued for work-related purposes. Since your device will use biometric scanners to handle the private key aspect of your login, private key and public key technologies are more powerful than other sign-in technologies.

Can Traditional Passwords Still Be Effective?

While arguments are still being made that the traditional password can still provide effective and adequate security when used properly, this argument does not always acknowledge some of the challenges that have been made clear. One of those challenges is that everyone does not take a password’s importance seriously. Credentials are supposed to provide a shield of protection, but many users still choose to use simple passwords. For example, at the top of the list of most common passwords is 123456.

What has been the response to the level of protection that passwords can give us? One of those responses has been to add additional layers to the password process, such as asking users to enter a one-time passcode. However, an argument can be made that a process like Two-factor authentication (2FA) can make the process even more inconvenient. As a result of the inconvenience that many users feel from 2FA, many users choose to disable 2FA when it’s an option.

Passwordless authentication has proven to be more efficient and secure. Passwordless authentication also provides a better balance between usability and security. However, passwordless authentication did not garner as much attention previously because of the perception of high cost and complex implementations. As a result, many businesses and organizations were not onboard with passwordless authentication. Today, this is no longer the case, especially due to the emergence of cloud-based SaaS (Software-as-a-Service) deployments that eliminate the challenges of deploying expensive IT projects with a single, quick action.

Moving Toward a Passwordless Future

For years, passwords have been a critical layer of security for every aspect of our digital lives. Passwords are used for everything, from email accounts to mobile banking accounts, online retail shopping to social media.

Bad actors have access to advanced tools and utilize sophisticated and unsophisticated techniques, and they can use brute-force cyberattacks to try multiple possibilities quickly. Bad actors can also use phishing attacks to trick unsuspecting users into entering credentials into a fake website. Bad actors can use relatively unsophisticated tactics because they continue to work, in large part because weak passwords continue to be used.

Microsoft’s new features have been designed to improve not only the management of login credentials but the usability, including the following:

  • Authentication methods and technologies
  • Step-up authentication
  • Passwordless application programming interface

This breakthrough by Microsoft aims to enable businesses and organizations to implement passwordless authentication across their environments at scale. Microsoft has designed an authentication experience that offers businesses and organizations a high level of security, and this strategy can be used across a variety of devices and applications.

When You Are Ready to Go Passwordless, Corptek Can Help

At Corptek, we provide IT services and IT support throughout Dallas and Fort Worth that help businesses and organizations get the most out of their technology. As a Microsoft partner, we can help you implement the latest passwordless authentication technology into your business. We are also here to help you create an effective IT security plan for your business, including an IT security assessment. Contact the most trusted IT consultants in Dallas and Fort Worth.