Why Windows 10 may save you the Password Rigmarole

password2Windows 10 recently hit the shelves and a good number of PC users around the world have already upgraded to the latest OS offering from Microsoft. And unlike Windows 8 and its variations, they seem to have gotten this one right. ‘How’ is a question for another day, but thus far, this operating system is the epitome of what a desktop OS should be or the part it plays in what is becoming a progressively mobile and cloud-connected world.

The world is still relying on the good ole user name and password combo to gain access to computers and sensitive data and applications. What the world is also doing is coming to grips with the ever rising number of online security breaches and smart hackers employing cutting-edge techniques to exploit passwords and compromise credentials. If anything, the past few years have served as a compelling reason as to why we should do away with passwords and why two-factor authentication or more robust forms of authentication hold more water.

Microsoft Passport

With Microsoft Passport, Windows 10 is offering an opportunity for sturdier authentication. It integrates with a Microsoft Account (of course it had to), AD (Active Directory) account, Microsoft Azure Active Directory account, or services unrelated to Microsoft that support Fast ID Online (FIDO) authentication.

All you have to do is sign up for Microsoft Passport once and from then onwards use a PIN or Windows Hello to gain access to your computer and all their services and applications.

Microsoft Passport employs biometric methods and/or gestures to grant access as opposed to passwords. With passwords out of the way, the risk of brute force attacks and phishing scams is curtailed. So is the potential for server breaches because what Passport’s credentials do is use keys generated within the secure environment of Trusted Platform Modules.

Another Level

Windows Hello propels the Microsoft Passport concept to a different level. Microsoft has this Windows 10 TV ad featuring babies across the world, and they paint a picture of the kind of technology they will grow up with, including the ability to gain entry to with nothing more than a smile.

Windows Hello includes biometric techniques such as iris scanning, fingerprint scanning, and facial recognition. What’s unique about that, you may wonder? Well, a Win10 PC armed with the right camera technology will recognize you and grant you access as you sit down at your computer.

Now, the hard part is finding a PC fitted with the right camera technology. There is more to the Windows Hello facial recognition feature than just matching an image of your face because this can be outwitted by something as simple as a decent photo of a person’s face on your smartphone. The Windows Hello version necessitates nothing short of an Intel RealSense 3D camera (like this one here). The name itself should give you an idea of what you would be dealing with. This technology goes beyond the surface image by detecting one’s unique personal characteristics. More like the imaging capability that Microsoft’s Kinect employs to identify Xbox users.

Be Gone!

Passwords are just a pain. This explains why people choose to use passwords as complex as ‘123456’, ‘password’ or ‘abc123’. Seriously. These were on the Top 10 list of most common passwords of 2014. Who does that?! Yours may not be as simple and straightforward, but it’s a task thinking up a couple of complex ones for your various needs (you’re not employing the one-for-all mantra, are you?) and keeping track of them all. And regardless of how complex a password is, it can get breached.

What’s the point? It may have taken years to do away with, but it really is a ripe time to bury the password. And as much as we’re not gunning for anyone, security technologies like Microsoft’s Passport and Hello may just help in successfully reducing the reliance on this archaic form of authentication.

About the Author

Roger Feinstein has grown up with computers his entire life and strives to help others understand what goes on behind the scenes in their PCs. He's been writing tech articles for websites for over 5 years.

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