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Apple’s plan to make passwords obsolete

Peter Griffin, Editor. 04 August 2022, 10:39 am

Apple wants to change the way people log into apps and websites forever with its Passkeys feature set to roll out in a few months' time and do away with cumbersome passwords.

The debut of iOS 16, iPadOS 16 and MacOS Ventura, the latest version of the operating systems for the Apple iPhone, iPad and Mac computers respectively, will include a passkey system that goes beyond the iCloud Keychain process Apple currently employs to let iPhone users authenticate themselves across their Apple devices using the Face ID or Touch ID features of their iPhone.

While iCloud Keychain effectively populates your username and password into text fields for websites and apps, Passkeys creates a unique key that can only be authenticated by Face ID or Touch ID. The Passkeys are stored in encrypted form on Apple devices, rather than in the cloud.

Screenshot 2022-08-04 at 10.36.10 AM.png

Apple Passkeys will be available across compatible Apple devices

Microsoft made passwordless sign-in generally available for its commercial users last March, with a system relying on the Microsoft Authenticator app to authenticate logins on a user’s various devices. Microsoft, Google and Apple are also collaborating on the FIDO (Fast Identity Online) Alliance to do away with passwords using open standards.

Apple’s Passkeys relies on public key cryptography, which matches a public key kept on a web server with a private key kept securely on the device. In theory, it should eliminate phishing attacks. The FIDO Alliance members see passwords as the weak link in digital security and believe that passwordless systems will significantly improve the security of using apps and websites.

As the trendsetter in user design, Apple, therefore, has the power to cement passwordless log-in as the default setting for hundreds of millions of people. It also cements the iPhone at the heart of the Apple ecosystem as the go-to device to use biometrics to authenticate your online activity.

While Passkeys will work across all compatible Apple devices, Apple TV included, it will employ a QR code system you can scan with an iPhone or iPad to authenticate access on set-top boxes and other non-Apple devices. Apple said it was also working with a wide range of app makers to include the Passkeys systems as a log-in option for Apple users.

“This isn't a future dream to replace passwords,” Apple’s Kurt Knight told Tom’s Guide.  This is something that's going to be a road to completely replace passwords, and it's starting now."


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