Forget passwords – you’ll soon have another way to log into websites that will make your accounts less vulnerable.
Chrome, Firefox and Edge will soon support a new open standard called Web Authentication (WebAuthn). When it’s implemented, you’ll be able to use a mobile device to verify your identity. This could involve an app, a USB hardware key, or biometric data, and could either serve as an extra form of authentication or replace passwords completely.
This type of authentication makes it much harder for criminals to pull off phishing attacks because there’s no consistent line of characters (like a conventional password) that provides access to your accounts.
Some services, including Google and Facebook, already support multi-factor authentication via a smartphone app or Yubikey device. It’s also popular in businesses where security is particularly important, but isn’t widely used elsewhere.
Hopefully, that’s about to change. WebAuthn is an open standard, which means it’s much more accessible to smaller developers that can’t afford to invest in their own technology.
The WebAuthn standard is supported by Firefox Beta (version 60.0) and is scheduled for general release in May. It will also appear in Chrome and Edge in the coming months. Apple hasn’t revealed when the standard will be supported in Safari, but has committed to it.