Microsoft can now remove passwords from Microsoft accounts to accept a passwordless future. Starting today, software giants will allow consumers to sign in to their Microsoft account using the Microsoft Authenticator app, Windows Hello, security key, or SMS / email verification code instead of a password.
The new option will appear just months after Microsoft launched passwordless authentication for commercial users in March, helping people adapt to the reality of remote work. When you think about security, you think you have to protect your entire life, Vasu Jakkal, Corporate Vice President of Security, Compliance and Identity at Microsoft, said in an interview with The Verge. It’s no longer enough to think about work, home, and anything in between.
Microsoft has been working towards a passwordless future for years, but the pandemic has only accelerated things. Jakkal explains that if there is digital transformation and the enterprise has to go remotely overnight, the number of digital surfaces is growing exponentially. This was a major driver in accelerating many security initiatives, as the number of attack surfaces is growing exponentially.
Microsoft allows you to permanently remove your password from your account.Image: Microsoft
Today is a major milestone for Microsoft’s passwordless ambitions after the company enabled security keys in 2018 and made Windows 10 passwordless in 2019. It’s being rolled out by Microsoft, and almost 100% of Microsoft has no password, says Jakkal. With over 200 million people already using the passwordless option, Jakkal is optimistic about adoption among consumers.
Deleting a password is also a relatively easy process. You need to install the Microsoft Authenticator mobile app and link to your personal Microsoft account. Once that’s done, you can go to account.microsoft.com, select advanced security options, and enable a passwordless account in the additional security section. Then approve the changes from the Authenticator app, no password is required. You can always undo your changes and add the password back to your Microsoft account at any time in the future.
The benefits of passwordless authentication are very obvious. Most people create their own passwords, but it’s often difficult to create something secure and memorable without resorting to a password manager. Password reuse often allows an attacker to quickly log in to various compromised accounts after a particular organization has been targeted and the password has been dumped.
Google, Apple, and others are also working to reduce their reliance on passwords. You can sign in with Google Chrome without a password. The Apple iOS 15 and macOS Monterey updates include a passkey for the iCloud Keychain feature, which is an attempt to replace passwords with a more secure login process.
Updated, September 15th, 10:40 AM ET: The article has been updated to clarify the currently used passwordless options.
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