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The Death of Passwords?

While the recent Facebook saga has underlined the fact that using a password to protect your data doesn’t mean it won’t be improperly accessed, we have become used to needing to create, remember and use passwords in most aspects of our digital lives.

But the humble letter/number/symbol combination may soon be a thing of the past, with a new web standard – the Web Authentication (WebAuthn) – expected to be issued soon.

If approved, WebAuthn will replace the password with either biometrics or devices like smartphones, security keys or webcams that communicate with the website via Bluetooth, USB or near-field communication (NFC).

WebAuthn is at the candidate recommendation stage in front of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) – the body that develops web standards – which is the final step before it becomes an approved standard.

The new standard has ambitions of reducing the incidences of the theft and use of credentials, and protection against phishing attacks. By its nature, it will also help people use unique logins across the online services they use.  Most people use the same login details across multiple websites and the new standard will therefore reduce vulnerability to attacks.

While sites like Google and  Facebook already offer users the option to use similar methods to WebAuthn for logging in, once W3C approves it as a standard, many more sites and services will be able to put a stake in passwords as a login method.

Copyright 2019 K & L Gates

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About this Author

Cameron Abbott, Technology, Attorney, Australia, corporate, KL Gates Law Firm
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Mr. Abbott is a corporate lawyer who focuses on technology, telecommunications and broadcasting transactions. He assists corporations and vendors in managing their technology requirements and contracts, particularly large outsourcing and technology procurements issues including licensing terms for SAP and Oracle and major system integration transactions.

Mr. Abbott partners with his clients to ensure market leading solutions are implemented in to their businesses. He concentrates on managing and negotiating complex technology solutions, which...

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Allison Wallace, KL Gates, Commercial Technology and Sourcing lawyer, Australia

Allison Wallace is a lawyer in the Melbourne, Australia office of K&L Gates, working in the Commercial Technology and Sourcing Practice. 

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