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WWDC 2022: Apple gives users a glimpse of the passwordless future with 'passkeys'

WWDC 2022: Apple gives users a glimpse of the passwordless future with 'passkeys'
Photo Credit: Pixabay
7 Jun, 2022
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At the Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC) 2022, Apple unveiled its new macOS, named Ventura and with it demonstrated “passkeys”, a new biometric sign-in standard to enable passwordless logins, as it gave users a glimpse at what a passwordless world will look like. Passwordless authentication is a form of multi-factor authentication that replaces the password with a secure alternative.

“Passkeys”, according to Apple, are based on the Web Authentication API (WebAuthn), a standard that uses public-key cryptography instead of passwords for authenticating users to websites and applications. These unique digital keys stored on-device rather than on a web server, so hackers can’t leak them or trick users into sharing them.

“Browsing in Safari is even safer with passkeys, next-generation credentials that are more secure, easy to use, and designed to replace passwords,” Craig Federighi, Apple’s senior vice president of Software Engineering, said while commenting on macOS Ventura. 

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Passkeys, as per Apple, make it simple to sign in securely, using Touch ID or Face ID for biometric verification, and iCloud Keychain to sync across Mac, iPhone, iPad, and Apple TV with end-to-end encryption.

Also read: WWDC 2022: What to expect from Apple’s annual developer event

According to Verizon’s annual data breach report 2022, passwords are insecure, with easily guessable credentials accounting for more than 80% of all data breaches. As passkeys eliminate the need for passwords entirely, the Apple executive said, they are much less susceptible to being stolen in the case of a data breach or phishing attempt.

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Apple isn’t alone in its efforts to move to a passwordless world. On May 5, Google and Microsoft joined forces with Apple to expand support for passwordless logins across mobile, desktop and browsers.

Through this move, the companies stated that they would begin supporting industry standards for passwordless logins set by industry body, Fast Identity Online (FIDO) Alliance, and the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), to accelerate adoption of passwordless logins. 

Microsoft's Vasu Jakkal said, with passkeys, the goal is to enable sign in from any device regardless of the platform or browser the device is running. "For example, users can sign in on a Google Chrome browser that's running on Microsoft Windows, using a passkey on an Apple device," he added. 

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Google, which will support for passwordless logins in Android and the Chrome web browser for users to securely sign in across different devices and websites added in its blog, "Even if you lose your phone, your passkeys will securely sync to your new phone from cloud backup, allowing you to pick up right where your old device left off”. 

According to Apple, macOS Ventura will be available in beta this summer, followed by a public rollout later in 2022. At that time, presumably, Passkeys will be available for Mac users. iOS 16 and iPadOS 16 will likely bring Passkeys to the iPhone and iPad. Federighi added that the company will also work across apps and the web, and users can even sign in to websites or apps on non-Apple devices using their iPhone.