The technological world is advancing day by day, and web authentication is no exception. The WebAuthn is the latest way to log into websites without having to remember the passwords. Yes, it leads us to a new way of passwordless browsing with more security and a better user experience.
It doesn’t precisely abandon the usage of passwords. Instead, it requires using a different authentication method such as your face, fingerprint, or a hardware token.
Learn more about this passwordless technology and go deeper into how it works, who originated it, and many other factors below. Let’s get started!
Nowadays, most of the leading browsers and platforms adopt this authentication specification for enhanced and passwordless user experience. WebAuthn is an excellent way to enhance the security of web applications. Furthermore, it even prevents the risks of phishing, and users won’t have to enter passwords every time they try to access their favorite web applications.
We can say that WebAuthn is an easy authentication choice that allows you to protect your accounts in a better way. For example, if users don’t have a password, then there won’t be any problem with the password getting stolen.
The ceremonies (authentication flows) of WebAuthn are pretty simple. When the users visit a platform or a browser, they don’t need to enter or save their passwords. Instead, they can use any external factor to authenticate their access to the web application.
In such cases, the browser or platform asks for a trusted authenticator to allow you access to your required web applications. The authenticator can be anything from a fingerprint, face scan, or even hardware tokens. Since the authenticator that you put in is already trusted, there’s no need to store passwords on the site itself. Basically, WebAuthn makes the authenticator an intermediary that allows you to get access to the web applications.
The authenticator confirms that you really are who you say you are, and then the web server receives the encrypted confirmation through the browser.
Hence, we can say that WebAuthn creates an interface that allows you to use passwordless authentication across web applications through the browser or platform that you are using.
The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) published WebAuthn or Web Authentication. It is the FIDO2 project’s core component which the FIDO Alliance guides. Microsoft Edge, Firefox, Chrome, and Yubico were also contributors to this project. This project aims to standardize the authentication interface of users for web applications.
Passwords tend to be vulnerable because the moment someone steals them, your security reaches the bottom. In addition to that, users tend to reuse the same passwords across different web applications. Some users even use weak passwords that are easy to hack into. That’s why breaking into an account that is secured with a password is a lot easier for hackers.
WebAuthn acts like a more robust authentication method that protects the web and its users. It works beyond just putting together words and numbers to create a password. Its unique authentication feature is based on innovative technology. In the ever-advancing world paving ways towards advanced technology, WebAuthn is making an excellent appearance. It’s a new standard for web authentication, which leads to more robust security beyond the ones we could have imagined.
Even the multi-factor authentication system is vulnerable. Why? Even if you have a second factor along with a strong password, you could still fall into the clutches of phishing. In addition, you may enter those credentials on the phisher’s website or get trapped through malware. However, WebAuthn is changing all that. Instead, we can say that it’s bringing a revolution to the traditional web authentication processes.
We’ve been using passwords to secure our privileged information online for a long time. However, we are developing day by day, and so is the way we secure our confidential information. You may have noticed yourself entering your credentials within the site. Ever wondered if it gets leaked? If that happens, your password can be used for suspicious purposes, leading to a cascade effect.
On the other hand, WebAuthn doesn’t require any password. It doesn’t prerequisite you to enter a password to access a web application. Instead, it brings another factor into the situation. It requires a one-time authentication token whenever you log in. You can log in using elements that no hackers can get their hands on, such as your fingerprints or other external authentication factors.
For any website, web application, or operating system requiring authentication, the WebAuthn is quite beneficial. There are several reasons why it’s beneficial, some of which are the following:
WebAuthn creates a new bar in terms of authentication. As a result, it leads to improvements in user security. Furthermore, it enables a public key cryptography-based authentication that is stronger than the other authentication systems.
The WebAuthn system is flexible since it enables users to customize their strong single-factor or multi-factor authentications. In addition, they can customize it based on the system in which they are accessing it.
WebAuthn is cost-effective. Since it puts a stop to passwords, the productivity costs related to it get reduced. In addition, it also decreases the support costs, such as support for helping users reset their passwords. Also, avoiding passwords leads to less stress on the IT resources since there’s no need to manage credentials anymore.
Incorporating WebAuthn into the traditional authentication mode can be highly beneficial since it reduces users’ friction. In addition, it enables a seamless experience in terms of authentication.
The introduction of WebAuthn in the web authentication system has led to a significant change in how websites authenticate a user. In addition, it leads to the standardization of a robust authentication method across websites, web applications, or operating systems.
The implementation of WebAuthn is replacing the old way of entering passwords with unique authentication methods such as fingerprint scans or security key tapping. It allows users to have a better experience. They don’t have to go through the hassle of passwords or check for SMS codes.
Sometimes, it can be frustrating and time-consuming to hunt for passwords. On top of that, if users forget their passwords, then the hassle of resetting it can be too much. However, WebAuthn adds a time-saving option where users no longer have to devote their precious time finding or changing passwords.
There are multiple hardware-based authentication factors that WebAuthn supports:
WebAuthn supports biometric authenticator devices. It can be in the form of voice, facial, fingerprints, or retinal scans, which helps the website/browser authenticate a user trying to log in. One can connect such authenticators using several devices such as Bluetooth, USB port, or NFC technology. Along with this, the users can authenticate through their location for enhanced security.
Security keys are similar to biometrics scanners. Users can also use these by connecting through Bluetooth, USB port, or NFC. These are devices that facilitate stronger authentication. One can also call them security tokens.
You may have already noticed device-based biometrics since they are highly used nowadays. Some examples are iPhones, Macs, and androids that support biometrics, including TouchID, FaceID, etc.
YubiKeys are similar to security keys in terms of functionality. However, these keys have added security measures to store OTP (one-time passwords). When users connect YubiKeys to a device, they can get an OTP to access authentication.
WebAuthn is quite an iconic way of identifying a user. It’s a singer-factor identification method. Suppose you pass out and someone uses your fingerprint scan to access your web account. Is that all then? It might happen. However, 2-factor authentication includes 2 of these 3:
● Something you own (a token, key, or smartcard)
● Something you are (fingerprint, face, or retinal scan)
Although WebAuthn is exceptional, using it in addition to a password for other authentication is better for your account security compared to any other methods.
WebAuthn is already in use. Users can notice much of its groundwork already. Android, Windows 10, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome, Apple Safari, and Microsoft Edge support this technological advancement.
Now, it depends on users whether they implement WebAuthn on their websites or not. It can be beneficial for both users and website/platform owners. It enhances users’ productivity and decreases website owners’ costs. In addition, more education on security and WebAuthn is crucial for individuals. Unless users don’t understand the value of security and how it can be improved, making WebAuthn a complete reality worldwide won’t be possible.
WebAuthn is like a wave that takes you forward towards the future. It leads to a passwordless future with secure authentication. In addition, it acts as a framework that allows individuals to move in a secure direction.
Although it’s a new specification, we can still notice its increasing momentum. It’s not available on all websites or platforms, but significant browsers and operating systems support it. It enables users to move away from the risks of password-driven accounts, but it also makes accounts immune to phishing and external threats. Hence, data stealth is no longer possible in the presence of WebAuthn.
When more and more systems start to adopt WebAuthn, the world will thoroughly delve into a better way of web security in authentication, including biometric and possession-based verifications.