Log-in passwords could be a thing of the past

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Browser companies like Chrome, Edge and Firefox will soon support a new credential system that eliminate the need for a password. Instead of signing-in with a username and password the user will be able to register with fingerprint, retina, or other biometrics stored in a smartphone.

Browser companies, under the umbrella of World Wide Web Consortium, have agreed on this standard called the WC3 Web Authentication API specification, or WebAuthn. When available, it will enable a person visiting a site to hit the sign-up button, and then receive a prompt on a smartphone to register. The user will then need to provide an ‘authorization gesture’, which could be a PIN or a fingerprint that will then be linked to that account. The individual will be able to sign-in with the same gesture in future.

The exciting thing about this API is that it would be standardised and support the use of fingerprint readers, cameras, and USB keys as a method of logging into your account. Use cases also include using the fingerprint reader on the phone to log into a website that you’re browsing on your laptop or desktop, which may not have its own fingerprint sensor.

The feature is already in use as an experimental technology in FireFox, and others browser companies are expected to test the API later this year. But despite inputs and contribution from companies such as Google, Microsoft, PayPal, Mozilla, Qualcomm and others, Apple has not yet consented to be onboard.


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