In a move that signals an easier, more widespread proliferation of safer, easier-to-implement digital security, the biggest technology companies, Microsoft, Apple, and Google, have announced a commitment to expanding the FIDO security standard with even greater support. This is all-around good news for the computer industry in general and for many day-to-day users in particular.
The FIDO Standard
FIDO stands for “Fast Identity Online” and is an alliance created in 2013 to help businesses and general users reduce their reliance on passwords. Passwords have been a staple of computer security since the invention of the technology but are a generally weak mechanism. The best passwords can’t be guessed because they consist of a long string of randomly selected alphanumeric symbols. However, this is a double-edged sword as most people can’t remember these complex strings of characters. The result is that many people resort to easy-to-remember passwords that are, as a result, easy to guess as well, completely negating the security value of a password system.
FIDO as a group is dedicated to making password-free security systems more widespread and easier to implement. While a password can be guessed and used to gain control of accounts, devices, and even online identities, password-free security systems, like biometrics, have no such weakness. A fingerprint or face can’t be guessed and requires far more money and effort to counterfeit than is typically worth the expense for criminals.
As with any industry, standardization means easier and wider implementation. Consumers and the media industry have already seen how fragmented things can become when competing formats, such as Blu-Ray versus HD-DVD in the home video arena. However, once companies agree on a single, unified standard, this becomes a crucial point for more widespread adoption.
With the three biggest technology companies agreeing to provide broader support for FIDO standards, this means many more devices and software can rely on using the same tools, standards, and protocols, considerably speeding up the ease and adoption of these technologies.
This means for users and businesses that the most common computing devices and technologies for work and recreation will now incorporate more password-free methods. Biometrics, for example, require only a face, fingerprint, or voice unique to each user and impossible to “guess” in the same way passwords can be compromised so anyone can use them.
This broader implementation of FIDO protocols is expected to be seen in action within the year. If you’re interested in using the FIDO protocol and moving to a password-free system, read here to learn more.