Google to Add Passwordless Authentication Support to Android and Chrome

Passwordless Authentication

Google today announced plans to implement support for passwordless logins in Android and the Chrome web browser to allow users to seamlessly and securely sign in across different devices and websites irrespective of the platform.

“This will simplify sign-ins across devices, websites, and applications no matter the platform — without the need for a single password,” Google said.

Apple and Microsoft are also expected to extend the support to iOS, macOS, and Windows operating systems as well as Safari and Edge browsers.

The common Fast IDentity Online (FIDO) sign-in system does away with passwords entirely in favor of displaying a prompt asking a user to unlock the phone when signing into a website or an application.

This is made possible by storing a cryptographically-secured FIDO credential called a passkey on the phone that’s used to log in to the online account after unlocking the device.

“Once you’ve done this, you won’t need your phone again and you can sign-in by just unlocking your computer,” Google said.

“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.”

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,” Microsoft’s Vasu Jakkal said.

The new passwordless sign-in capabilities are expected to become available across Apple, Google, and Microsoft platforms over the course of the coming year.

“Users will sign in through the same action that they take multiple times each day to unlock their devices, such as a simple verification of their fingerprint or face, or a device PIN,” the FIDO alliance said.

“This new approach protects against phishing and sign-in will be radically more secure when compared to passwords and legacy multi-factor technologies such as one-time passcodes sent over SMS.”

In a way, the method can be viewed as an extension of its own Google prompts for logging into accounts secured with two-factor authentication (aka 2-Step Verification).

The development comes as code hosting platform GitHub announced that it will “require all users who contribute code on GitHub.com to enable one or more forms of two-factor authentication (2FA) by the end of 2023” to prevent account takeover attacks.

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