Why the future of passwords is FIDO according to Citrix

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Cybersecurity has come under the lens in the past year, as working from home has seen a significant increase in cyberattacks targeting remote workers. While having good cybersecurity habits in place is always advised, even a sophisticated password solution may not be enough to keep prying eyes out. There could, however, be a better solution in he form of Fast Identity Online (FIDO), with Citrix’s Matthew McKay, regional director for Sub -Saharan Africa at Citrix, classing them as the future of how online security is facilitated.

“We all hate passwords. We hate remembering them. We hate changing them every 90 days. And we hate their complexity rules. Well, here’s the good news: Passwords are outdated. The future will use Fast Identity Online,” he says.

For those unfamiliar with FIDO, when a user needs to login somewhere, they can use a FIDO-approved device (like their phone) to verify their voice, fingerprint, face or any combination thereof. To protect user privacy, only FIDO sees the biometric authentication method—never the online service.

Citing a recent Verizon report, McKay highlights the fact that 80 percent of data breaches or hacks were as the result of stolen credentials. We saw this play out in Twitter’s massive hack last year, where social engineering tactics help hackers gain access in a rather simple and concerning fashion.

Security > Simplicity

“The primary problem with passwords arises when users choose them for simplicity rather than security. Think about when you’re asked for a password: You have to remember the context it’s in and which password you used for which site. Perhaps you use a password manager or browser extension like LastPass to create long and complex passwords for each of your logins. In that case, you’re probably copying and pasting your password into the input field instead of manually typing it. If you deal with materially sensitive or classified information, you may also use a CAC card or multi-factor authentication to verify your identity, but users rarely adopt these additional access steps unless they’re required,” McKay has found in his experience.

This is where FIDO is anticipated to play a role in a growing passwordless security environment moving forward. In fact, by next year research firm Gartner, “predicts that 60% of large and global enterprises, and 90% of midsize enterprises, will implement passwordless methods in more than 50% of use cases — up from 5% in 2018.”

“Passwords have become increasingly problematic, as users rarely focus on the actual reason behind the need for passwords when they formulate them. FIDO, on the other hand, is very much focused on security, yet it also meets the users’ need for simplicity. It is the ideal solution for both organisations and their employees,” adds McKay.

“Passwords are the ghosts of the internet—they will be around forever, but your organisation need not be haunted by them. By embracing FIDO authentication, you can free your employees, partners, and third-party users from having to remember regularly-changed, complex passwords,” he concludes.

Whether FIDO will indeed replace traditional passwords remains to be seen, but the continued remote or hybrid working model will necessitate a more secure option be in place.

Robin-Leigh Chetty

Robin-Leigh Chetty

When he's not reviewing the latest smartphones, Robin-Leigh is writing about everything tech-related from IoT and smart cities, to 5G and cloud computing. He's also a keen photographer and dabbles in console games.