Microsoft takes another step towards killing passwords

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People looking to log into their Microsoft accounts no longer need passwords to do so. 

The Redmond giant has announced today that it is supporting passwordless user authentication, which uses biometrics, the Microsoft Authenticator app, or a FIDO2-compatible device.

A whole swathe of Microsoft services will support the new feature, including Outlook.com, Office 365, Skype, OneDrive, Cortana, Microsoft Edge, Xbox Live on the PC, Mixer, the Microsoft Store, Bing, and MSN.com. Users will need Windows 10 (version 1809) to be able to use it.

“This combination of ease of use, security and broad industry support is going to be transformational,” said Alex Simons, corporate vice president at Microsoft’s Identity Division.

“Every month, more than 800 million people use a Microsoft account to create, connect, and share from anywhere to Outlook, Office, OneDrive, Bing, Skype and Xbox Live for work and play. And now they can all benefit from this simple user experience and greatly improved security.”

Even though passwords were supposed to protect our digital belongings, it seems as they have become the weakest link in the past few years. With the growing number of online services, people are having a hard time remembering different passwords, so they start reusing the same one for multiple services. Once a hacker discovers a password, he can potentially get access to multiple services.

To make matters worse, most frequent passwords are very easy to ‘crack’ - they’re usually ‘password’, ‘12345678’ or ‘qwertyui’. Security experts suggest a strong password that will combine capital letters, numbers and symbols, as well as two-factor authentication. And if you’re having trouble remembering them all, use a password manager.

Image Credit: Christiaan Colen / Flickr