Standards Milestone Could Mark Beginning of End for Passwords | Internet

By John P. Mello Jr.

Apr 11, 2018 10:59 AM PT

A Web requirements milestone introduced Tuesday may level to the top of the highway for pesky passwords.

The new commonplace, WebAuthn, has received near-final approval from the World Wide Web Consortium, which establishes Web requirements.

WebAuthn defines an ordinary Application Program Interface that may be integrated into browsers and Web infrastructure. It opens the door for brand spanking new methods for customers to authenticate themselves on the Internet which can be safer and handy than passwords.

“Security on the Web has long been a problem which has interfered with the many positive contributions the Web makes to society,” mentioned W3C CEO Jeff Jaffe.

“While there are many Web security problems and we can’t fix them all, relying on passwords is one of the weakest links,” he continued. “With WebAuthn’s multifactor solutions, we are eliminating this weak link.”

Tech Heavyweight Support

The new commonplace appears to be poised for fast development. Google, Microsoft and Mozilla already have dedicated to supporting WebAuthn of their browsers. Developers have begun to implement the usual for Windows, Mac, Linux, Chrome OS and Android.

“We expect browser and OS vendors will be out in the second half of this year,” mentioned Rajiv Dholakia, vice president for merchandise at
Nok Nok Labs.

“Uniform support will take about 12 months,” he informed TechNewsWorld, “but we already know people running internal proofs of concept with the goal of bringing something to market as early as late in the second quarter or early third quarter.”

Implementing WebAuthn shouldn’t be troublesome for organizations, famous Michael Thelander, senior director of product at

“There are new concepts involved, but not radically new security thinking,” he informed TechNewsWorld.

“The larger problem will be getting time and attention — especially in large organizations using this for customer-facing authentication — from the other stakeholder groups involved,” Thelander mentioned.

“Compliance, user experience, product management and operations will all have a say and need some time,” he added.

Keeping Secrets Secret

WebAuthn, which is predicated on a specification written by the
FIDO Alliance, could make the Internet safer for customers.

“There are many attacks that user names and passwords are vulnerable to that FIDO is not,” noticed Brett McDowell, govt director of the
FIDO Alliance.

For instance, FIDO is proof against phishing assaults and information breaches, two of the commonest threats to customers and different customers of the Internet.

“FIDO is based on public-key cryptology,” McDowell informed TechNewsWorld.

“You don’t have to give away a credential secret — like a password — to authenticate your identity,” he defined. “When a website authenticates me using FIDO, it’s not asking me for my secret. That means I can’t be tricked by someone else to give away my secret.”

Promising Trend

Using public-key encryption for authentication has one other benefit, in keeping with Bob Crowe, a senior vice president of engineering at

“WebAuthn incorporates cryptographic logic which allows for various sources of stronger authentication including biometrics — think FaceID — and external authenticators, such as device to device,” he informed TechNewsWorld.

That makes the scheme extra handy, too. “All I have to do is look at my camera, touch my fingerprint sensor, or touch a button on a security key,” McDowell mentioned.

WebAuthn displays a promising pattern, mentioned Travis Biehn, a technical strategist at

The cellular enviornment has made nice strides in safety, he famous, with issues like mutual utility isolation, significant capabilities-based permissions fashions, cryptographic integrity of utility bundles, safe distribution and replace of utility bundles, and usable key storage amenities.

“The Web has not made any significant progress on those fronts,” Biehn informed TechNewsWorld, “so WebAuthn looks like a step in the right direction.”

The Big Challenge

FIDO’s WebAuthn will have to surmount an enormous problem if it may achieve widespread acceptance, maintained Iovation’s Thelander.

“There are already some authentication technologies that are more FIDO than FIDO. They already deliver the benefits of FIDO without having gone through the cost and time of FIDO compliance,” he mentioned.

“The biggest challenge is that great work is already being done in this field, and in some cases new standards need to play catch-up,” Thelander added.

Also, do not rely out the resilience of passwords.

“Look for a long tail of user name/password usage that will last for many years beyond the first rollout of FIDO-compliant sites,” Thelander predicted, “unless there’s such an improved user experience that online business can map an immediate ROI to the new authentication experience — more time on site, quicker logins, more frequent visits, more consumer confidence.”

John P. Mello Jr. has been an ECT News Network reporter
since 2003. His areas of focus embrace cybersecurity, IT points, privateness, e-commerce, social media, synthetic intelligence, massive information and shopper electronics. He has written and edited for quite a few publications, together with the Boston Business Journal, the
Boston Phoenix, Megapixel.Net and Government
Security News
. Email John.

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