It’s difficult to imagine using the internet without any sort of password protection. Not only are passwords used to protect your online accounts from unauthorized access, but, in many cases, they’re needed to access certain systems offline as well. But one company is hoping to do away with traditional password authentication altogether – and that company happens to be Microsoft.
Announced in September 2021, Microsoft unveiled their new “passwordless accounts” as an option in many of their current service offerings – including OneDrive and Outlook. While this is a feature that has been available for months on the corporate level, this is the first time that such an option is being offered to the general public.
Looking at the Replacement
While Microsoft is hoping to do away with traditional password protection, they’re obviously not eliminating individual user authentication. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. Their new method of user authentication could actually improve security across the board.
In lieu of traditional password protection, Microsoft is now giving users the option to login via the Microsoft Authenticator app, the Windows Hello service, or with an external security key via USB drive. While many users have already opted in for their own passwordless accounts, others simply aren’t comfortable enough with these new services to switch over their accounts so quickly.
- Microsoft Authenticator: Not only does Microsoft Authenticator manage sign-ins for all of your Microsoft accounts, but it also offers additional features – such as autofill and password recovery.
- Windows Hello: Available for systems running Windows 10 and above, Windows Hello gives users choice between PIN access, facial recognition, or fingerprint ID.
Although many users are eager to embrace the new change, it does beg the question: why? Why implement such a large change after all this time?
There are actually several answers to this question. First, the change comes right on the heels of the recent COVID-19 pandemic, which has more users working from home than ever before. Consequently, hackers now have a lot more entry points into vulnerable systems than ever before.
Microsoft’s recent change also comes after a significant uptick in cyberattacks. While some of these are the result of at-home workers, other attacks have exploited security holes and other issues within Microsoft Windows itself.
It’s also important to note that Microsoft isn’t the first company to offer its users an alternative method of logging in to their accounts. Both Apple and Google have similar services, but traditional, password-protected accounts have yet to be replaced altogether.
While it’s anybody’s guess as to how successful Microsoft might be, they’ve already seen a large number of users converting to passwordless accounts. As more users become familiar with the new technology, specifically Microsoft Authenticator and Windows Hello, there are bound to be even more users making the switch.
Passwordless accounts are certainly more convenient from the user’s perspective, and they do result in stronger protection for individual systems. Whether this technology is enough to stop hackers altogether, however, remains to be seen.
How Microsoft is Doing Away With Passwords
No comments yet. Sign in to add the first!