In an effort to improve security and make signing into websites easier for Edge users, Microsoft has announced support for the Web Authentication specification in its browser.
The new feature will allow users to log on using IR cameras, fingerprint readers and other hardware supported by Windows Hello. Additionally PINS and external FIDO2 security keys, such as the ones Google has been using internally to stop phishing attacks, will also be supported.
Curious users can try out the new feature right now by installing Windows Insider Preview build 17723 or higher. However, the feature will be made available to the general public later this year in Windows 10 version 1809.
Due to how new this technology is, it will take some time before websites adopt this security feature. Microsoft is also making it quite simple for websites to utilise backwards compatibility with external FIDO U2F security devices such as the ones used by Google.
In a blog post (opens in new tab) announcing the new feature, Microsoft explained why it partnered with the FIDO Alliance to create the Web Authentication specification, saying:
“We trust web sites to process credit card numbers, save addresses and personal information, and even to handle sensitive records like medical information. All this data is protected by an ancient security model—the password. But passwords are difficult to remember, and are fundamentally insecure—often re-used, and vulnerable to phishing and cracking. For these reasons, Microsoft has been leading the charge towards a world without passwords, with innovations like Windows Hello biometrics and pioneering work with the FIDO Alliance to create an open standard for passwordless authentication – Web Authentication.”
Microsoft has been building towards a passwordless future for some time now and by adding Web Authentication to Edge the company is one step closer to making this dream a reality.
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