What Does the Rise of Passwordless Logins Actually Mean?

With the increasing digitization of services across multiple industries, large corporations are pushing for new security measures to keep their customer’s documents and sensitive information secure.

Among these measures, we see the rise of passwordless logins, adding an extra layer of data protection with new authentication methods.

The transition to passwordless logins is undeniable, with approximately 60% of large and global enterprises and 90% of midsize enterprises predicted to adopt passwordless methods in at least 50% of use cases, according to a recent Gartner study. And this comes as no surprise due to security problems associated with password-only authentication being among the biggest on the web. Consumers are often tempted to reuse passwords across different services due to the difficulty of managing so many passwords.

In the past, users had to manage, store, and remember multiple passwords for several accounts. This is not only a burden to them, but it also brings significant security ramifications with it. To address these security issues,  FutureTech giants are supporting the revolution to eliminate passwords. Combined efforts by Apple, Google, and Microsoft have led to the advent of passwordless logins. Users are now able to use their smartphones to authenticate sign in and the system is expected to unlock access across different platforms.

Google encourages everyone to use a passwordless setup for services like their own Gmail, Google Drive, and Google Docs by providing email and online storage with a two-factor authentication system that only requires a phone number to login securely. Microsoft has also adopted a similar approach through their Microsoft Authenticator App, granting their users access to Microsoft Outlook, Microsoft OneDrive, Microsoft Family Safety, and more. And Apple’s iOS 16 and macOS Ventura allows users to sign into apps and websites through ‘passkeys’ replacing the traditional password.

As we witness the rise of passwordless logins with every device and system we use for our day to day, we must also consider the challenges that come with it. With greater technological advancements, there are even more advanced hackers that can breach and access our sensitive information and account if our passwordless authentication is not implemented and secured correctly.

Let’s analyze the pros and cons of a passwordless login and what this means for the future management of our accounts and data protection.

Different Forms of Passwordless Access

Google’s claim for the future of cybersecurity is that there will be greater advancements in authentication and verification technology that will completely transform the way users log in to their accounts, making the use of passwords obsolete. These emerging technologies will seamlessly connect and integrate our content wherever we are.

One clear example is biometric authentication, consisting of a process that uses physical or behavioral characteristics to identify an individual. Fingerprints, facial recognition, and voice recognition are all examples of biometric authentication. These methods are more secure and personal than passwords, and they’re becoming increasingly common in the business world. Two of the main reasons for the increasing adoption are:

Strengthen security measures: biometric authentication offers an extra layer of protection instead of traditional methods, such as passwords and PINs. As it’s tough to hack a persons’ biometric data, this method doesn’t compromise privacy and is proven to be more reliable to protect sensitive data

Reduce Identity Theft: The verification process behind biometric authentication is extensive and accurate, only allowing the right people access to the right accounts. This method alone noticeably reduces criminal activity, making it a greater challenge for even the most experienced cyberhackers to crack.

Just like biometric authentication, the biggest challenges that passwordless logins offer to users are:

– Ensuring secure access to devices and data

– Preventing unauthorized access to devices and data

– Reducing the risk of data breaches

– Protecting against identity theft

– Reducing the time it takes to access information or resources

The Struggle Against Passwords

As convenient and accessible as passwordless logins may sound, we still have to ask ourselves just how secure is our access to our accounts? After all, any security measure is only as strong as its weakest link.

Phishing, one of the most famous hacking methods consists of tricking people into giving out sensitive information which usually translates into access to our accounts. This could be done through sophisticated emails with links of malicious intent. As a security measure, users are now opting for hardware keys to secure their passwords (yes, traditional passwords) and grant themselves access to their accounts and services individually. These keys are plugged into a USB slot and automatically unlock the system. These can’t be used unless plugged in, preventing any potential hacking by phishing.

While balancing the pros and cons of a passwordless login, the future is clear: it will be the default method for accessing our devices and accounts. However, just how far will it go? Will we one day be able to simply walk up to a computer or phone and have it automatically recognize us? One thing is true though, we won’t need to remember passwords anymore.

About the Author

Ján Lunter is Founder and CEO at Innovatrics. Innovatrics is an independent EU-based provider of trusted biometric solutions for governments and enterprises. Our algorithms consistently rank among the fastest and most accurate in fingerprint and face recognition. For over 15 years, we have partnered with all types of organizations to build trusted and flexible biometric identification solutions. Our products are being used in more than 80 countries, benefiting more than a billion people worldwide.