Digital giants want to do away with passwords – rts.ch

Google, Microsoft and Apple had confirmed in May their intention to do away with passwords to connect to online accounts of websites. This week, Apple unveiled its “Passkeys” which will equip its computers in the fall.

Apple presented its latest innovations earlier this week. Ever more customizable IPhones, text messages that can be modified, telephones that become cameras for computers or even payment in installments for its Apple Pay system.

In the midst of these numerous announcements, there is a new technology for identifying oneself on the Internet, without a password. The app is called Passkeys, or Access code in French. It is found in the new macOS Ventura operating system, available in the fall. A technology that should eventually equip all its devices.

By surfing with the Safari browser, you can connect to a site, which integrates the technology, thanks to your smartphone placed near the computer. You will need to use biometrics to prove your identity.

Code at your fingertips

At Apple, it’s fingerprint (Touch ID) and facial recognition (Face ID). Tools that have been around for a while. They are mainly used to unlock the phone. Now, theoretically, these physical characteristics must make it possible to connect to anything.

>> Video presentation of the technology during the WWDC 2022 developer conference

Finally, why part with our passwords? It is convenient for users. No need to memorize a code or passwords that are getting longer and longer to prevent hacking.

Fighting against piracy, precisely, is Apple’s strong argument. Without a password, no more phishing to steal credentials. This new technology prevents you from sharing your access.

Critical data

Delivering biometric data to a company is a sensitive issue. GAFAMs have a bad reputation in terms of personal data protection. The current conditions of use may not be those of tomorrow.

Apple claims that everything is crypt, that the access keys remain in the device and the company cannot read them. “Password Sign-in uses Touch ID or Face ID for biometric verification, and iCloud Keychain for syncing Mac, iPhone, iPad, and Apple TV using end-to-end encryption,” reads the release from Apple.

But beware, zero risk does not exist in IT. If you can easily change your password, things get complicated for your face or your fingerprints. Losing your phone will also become much more problematic.

In the next few years, the technology will also be put to the test by hackers around the world to find vulnerabilities. But the digital giants are now presenting a common front to put an end to the use of passwords.

A broad alliance

Google, Apple, Amazon, Meta (ex-Facebook), Samsung and Microsoft have joined FIDO. Created in 2012, in particular by the online payment service system PayPal, this alliance aims to create a future without passwords.

FIDO is a new standard that is being put in place, like Bluetooth or Wifi. You should be able to use it regardless of the brand of your device. Eventually, your Apple phone should be able to unlock a website that you visit on a Windows computer, for example by scanning a QR code.

But passwords won’t disappear overnight. The path will be long because the password is part of the web culture. Not everyone has a smartphone. And as with all innovations, they only make commercial sense if they are embraced by the public.

Pascal Wassmer

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