Are password logins on their way to becoming a thing of the past? Here’s what you need to know about Alphabet’s passkey news.
Google took a notable step toward a possible password-less future on Wednesday. And while Rome still won’t be built in a day as it relates to account privacy and the infosec logistics therein, it’s an intriguing decision for one of the world’s true tech titans.
In a company blog post boldly titled “The beginning of the end of the password,” product managers Christiaan Brand and Sriram Karra revealed new features coming to a Google account near you. It’s a major component of the company’s joint commitment alongside industry rivals like Microsoft and Apple as part of what’s known as the FIDO Alliance to modernize the login process with passkeys. All told, the goal is to sidestep the four horsemen of the password-pocalypse: data breaches and phishing scams, stumbling on the dos and don’ts of two-factor authentication, what actually constitutes a “strong” password, and good, old-fashioned forgetting.
So, what on Earth is a passkey, anyway?
(Not for nothing, May 4 is World Password Day — a real thing that you can look up using the search engine of your choice if you remain skeptical.)
Passkey vs. Password: What’s the Difference?
The concept of a passkey boils down to a method of accessing an account that is both (1) simpler than a password and (2) in theory, more secure. According to Brand and Karra, Google passkeys will operate using one of three methods already familiar to just about all of us:
- Fingerprint scan
- Face scan
- Lock screen PIN
Notably, your passkey won’t just replace your password as a login method — you may be prompted to use it if and when Google detects potentially suspicious activity on one of your accounts. This sort of system already exists in a similar form via password, but the use of biometrics provides a level of peace of mind that less-than-bulletproof email- or SMS-based two-factor authentication cannot hope to match.
“We’re thrilled with Google’s announcement today as it dramatically moves the needle on passkey adoption due both to Google’s size, and to the breadth of the actual implementation, which essentially enables any Google account holder to use passkeys,” Andrew Shikiar, Executive Director of the FIDO Alliance, said in a news release. “I also think that this implementation will serve as a great example for other service providers and stands to be a tipping point for the accelerated adoption of passkeys.”
Google additionally notes that third-party platforms like PayPal, Docusign, and Shopify are already supporting passkeys, a sign that their use only promises to spread further and wider in the coming months and years.
Click here to learn more and set up a Google passkey for your accounts today.
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