May 6, 2022 - Technology

Apple, Google, Microsoft take new step toward a password-free world

Illustration of a closeup of an eye with an open padlock for the pupil
Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Apple, Google and Microsoft have all embraced a new standard that aims to lift the curse of remembering a million passwords.

Why it matters: The more we move our lives onto digital platforms, the more we've become dependent on passwords that are painful to coordinate and too often easy for malefactors to hack.

Driving the news: The FIDO Alliance — "Fast Identity Online" — aims to establish standards for the industry to transition from password-based authentication to biometrics like fingerprints and face scans that users already employ to unlock their devices.

  • By integrating the standard more fully, the tech giants hope to make these password-free ID options more widely available so they can be used to log in to websites and apps that currently require passwords.

Between the lines: Two-factor authentication — which requires you to sign in using both a password and a device, usually your phone — makes logins more secure but less convenient. Biometrics offer better protection without more friction.

Yes, but: Some consumers may balk at having their personally identifying data, like face scans and fingerprints, used across a wide array of platforms, websites and companies.

What's next: Apple, Google and Microsoft are expected to provide wider FIDO implementation and easier cross-platform use over the next year.

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