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World Password Day: Google bids goodbye to passwords

It's World Password Day and Google has begun rolling out passkeys, which effectively signals the arrival of a password-less future

Google has rolled out passkeys as an easier and more secure alternative. (Unsplash)
Google has rolled out passkeys as an easier and more secure alternative. (Unsplash)

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Google is bidding goodbye to passwords or at least making them an afterthought with a new technology – passkeys. You may no longer need to depend on names of pets, favourite books, destinations, birthdays or the infamous “password123.” to log in to your accounts. As an easier and more secure way to log in, passkeys could be the much-awaited alternative for those who despise passwords.

Passwords come with two main frustrations: the risk of misuse or hacking and remembering complex combinations. Moreover, our increasingly digital lives constantly put our personal data at risk. When your website or online service leaks your passwords, it can comprise your other online accounts as well, triggering an expansive security threat. Passkeys offer an easier and safer alternative to passwords and texted confirmation codes.

Also read: ‘123456’ or ‘Rocky’: where will passwords go in 2023?

Moreover, password fatigue  (creating weak passwords to remember which makes them easier to hack), password reuse and writing them down on sticky notes puts personal information at risk. Software-based password managers, which can create and store complex passwords are good tools to improve security but even they have a master password which has to be protected – and remembered.

Last year, aligned with the FIDO Alliance, Google announced that it was shifting focus to passkeys. Today, on World Password Day, the tech giant has rolled out support for passkeys across Google Accounts on all major platforms. This will be an additional option along with passwords such as 2-Step Verification (2SV), according to a Google blog post.

Passkeys are used by services such as Gmail to communicate directly with a trusted device such as your phone or laptop to log you in, according to an AP report. Passkeys let users sign in to apps and sites just like they unlock their devices: with a fingerprint, a face scan or a screen lock PIN. But unlike passwords, they are resistant to online attacks like phishing, which makes them more secure than options such as one-time codes, according to the post.

Passkeys come with several other advantages. One-time implementation will provide a password-less experience across different browsers and operating systems for users. This makes them difficult to hack, as explained in this previous article by Lounge. Passkeys are also specific to particular websites so scammers can’t steal a password from one site to use on another.

So, is this really the end of passwords? There have been talks about shifting away from passwords for a while, however, industry experts believe that it would be unrealistic to say that the death of passwords will happen completely anytime soon.

How to use passkeys?

First, enable them for your Google account. On any trusted device, open the browser and sign into your Google account. Then visit the page and click the option to “start using passkeys.” If you are on an Apple device, you will have to set up the Keychain app if you are not already using it. Then create passkeys that will connect your trusted device. Android phones are automatically ready to use passkeys but you will have to enable it first, according to an AP report.

Once you set it up, signing into Google will only require your email address. Instead of a password, the device will ask you for your fingerprint, face or PIN. signing into Google will only require you to enter your email address. If you've set up passkeys properly, you'll simply get a message on your phone or other device asking you for your fingerprint, facial recognition or a PIN.

Also read: Explained: How Indians are falling for AI voice scams

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