What are passkeys, and how do they work?
Passkeys are a type of authentication credential that uses an individual’s unique personal characteristics or tokens and cryptographic signatures to grant or deny access to secure systems, networks, or physical locations without passwords.
Unlike traditional security systems that rely on passwords, PIN codes, or physical keys, passkeys can use biometric traits like fingerprints, iris patterns, facial recognition, or voice recognition, or other personal characteristics.
Passkeys use the WebAuthn standard for public-key cryptography, developed by the FIDO Alliance and World Wide Web Consortium. They are stored on a personal device, with authentication processed locally, but are meant to work with multiple devices.
Passkeys are unique to each person and cannot be forgotten, lost, or easily stolen like a password or physical key. Biometric passkeys provide an additional layer of security, but they are not the only type of authentication supported by passkeys, which can also be accessed by entering a PIN or pattern.
Authentication can be performed quickly and easily without users needing to remember or enter complex codes or sequences, making passkeys a more convenient and secure option for many applications.
Passkeys also enable users to experience a more seamless experience through cross-device authentication, allowing a user to use a passkey on one device to sign into an account on another device, regardless of the operating system.
There are some aspects of passkeys, such as how they are shared between devices, that may be considered unacceptable to enterprise security administrators. Account recovery through the cloud could also present a point of vulnerability, compared to the rest of the system.
Passkeys are expected to become the standard for both enterprises and consumers in the near future, as they provide a more secure and convenient alternative to traditional password-based authentication systems.