Windows 10 to Push Stronger Authentication Methods

Windows 10 to Push Stronger Authentication Methods

Recently, Microsoft announced that it will be integrating FIDO 2.0 technical standards into Windows 10 when it releases. We've yet to see any evidence of this in recent Windows 10 beta builds, but the company is hard at work providing the integration and we should start to see signs shortly.

FIDO 2.0 is a specification put forth by an organization seeking to become a standards body, the Fast Identity Online (FIDO) Alliance. The idea behind the specification is that authentication through passwords will go away and be replaced by hardware-based authentication. New hardware components will be able to utilize things like eye scanning, face recognition, fingerprint acknowledgement, voice recognition, and others to authorize use of computers, devices, and Cloud services. Microsoft is working to embed the capabilities into Windows 10 for both Cloud-based accounts and accounts stored in on-premises Active Directory.

Eliminating passwords is a worthy cause, considering that most business users can't be bothered to create strong passwords, and executives continually share them with secretaries, or keep stick them to credenzas with Post-Its in clear view. The historical problem of eliminating passwords, though, has been poor adoption due to complexity and difficult solutions. However, one of FIDO's main tenants is to simplify authentication and make it much easier to use.

I remember trying to implement password fobs for SharePoint at an earlier stage in my professional career. It was difficult due to proprietary protocols and literally took multiple vendor calls and weeks to implement. We eventually got it working, but even then, educating users on how to use it took even longer and it was never fully accepted.

But, can the password be completely replaced?

Even with FIDO pushing standards, it's going to be tough for users to give up passwords. It's not just a technical problem, but also a social one. How do you wrench away a dated authentication method that serves as a reminder for dear old Aunt Tilly from Tacoma or a beloved, first pet?

FIDO, though, represents our new world where we fix things with technology. Have a problem? Throw a gadget at it. The Internet of Things (IoT) is seeping into almost every aspect of our lives. On one hand, it seems very revolutionary, modern, and apropos. But, on the other hand, it can seem a bit creepy. I'll be the first to admit that technology has greatly improved my life, but where do we draw the line? How far are we willing to go to replace human imperfections with technology? Will there be any human left?

We'll be digging through the IoT world here on Supersite more and more in the future, covering the best aspects, but also tagging those things that seem just a bit out of bounds.


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