Windows 10 brings password-free access another step closer

Microsoft hammered another nail in the password’s coffin by winning a certification for Windows Hello that will make it easier for people to log into Windows machines.

Windows Hello is the authentication in Windows 10, and Microsoft introduced it to wean us off password-based access. It enables machines with the right hardware reader or camera to scan your fingerprint or to access Windows 10 and your Microsoft account. You can also use it to access third-party services.

This month, the company earned FIDO2 certification for Windows Hello. By becoming a FIDO2 certified authenticator, Microsoft has just enabled 800million Windows 10 to use a hardware key with Windows Hello’s password-free system.

FIDO aims to make logins easier and more secure

To understand why this is important, we need to dig into FIDO, which stands for Fast IDentity Online. The FIDO Alliance is an industry backed by large tech players that aims to make logins easier and more secure.

Since the FIDO Alliance started in 2013, it has released three specifications. The first, announced in 2014, was the Universal Authentication Framework (UAF). That standard focused on using biometrics like your fingerprint for password-free authentication.

The second standard was Universal Second Factor (U2F). This let people authenticate themselves using hardware devices like USB keys that you could plug into your computer, or near-field communication (NFC) devices that you could tap on a hardware-based reader. Google and Yubico developed this technology for two-factor authentication, meaning you’d use it as an extra layer of protection on top of your regular password.

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