The system of passwords that underpins most of our Internet infrastructure has got its fair share of problems. Between users having difficulty remembering passwords, or eschewing safety features, or companies implementing dismal security structures, something needs to change. Two new systems — one currently available, and one in the works — could change the way users approach security.
There is no shortage of password management systems right now, but subscription-based manager Dashlane is introducing a feature to automatically update user passwords. The “password changer” feature allows users to change all their passwords for 75 major websites at once. It even works with two-factor authentication systems. The Verge reports:
Dashlane now includes a big green “change all passwords” button; click it, and it will replace your existing passwords with ones that are unique and randomly generated. If you have two-factor authentication enabled, a pop-up will ask you for a code or for the answer to a security question. Eventually, Dashlane plans to let you set certain passwords to change themselves at regular intervals.
The other new system is a sign-in system called FIDO (Fast Identification Online) from the Fido Alliance, which launched version 1.0 of its open standard earlier this month. The system uses a private and public key pair that allows devices and servers to communicate in an encrypted environment.
FIDO works by linking the private key with a sign-in method like fingerprint scanning or voice recognition to verify your identity without using a traditional password. A video from Nok Nok Labs shows how FIDO works in practice:
There’s a lot of hype surrounding FIDO and other “password killer” systems like it, and the people behind FIDO believe that technology is currently on the cusp of major change. “We now really are within range of seeing the world changing,” FIDO Alliance president Michael Barrett told The Verge, “and that’s the exciting part.”
Indeed, FIDO is well positioned to offer a new standard. The project has backing from “manufacturers like Samsung, Qualcomm and Blackberry; service companies like Google, Microsoft and Netflix; and financial companies like Bank of America, PayPal and Visa,” according to The Verge.
Given systems like these, it’s easy to jump to the conclusion that passwords will soon be obsolete, but a standard like FIDO is only as strong as its adoption rate among users and businesses. We may not see a revolution in the password system yet, but companies are laying the groundwork for a more secure Internet, and giving users more tools to protect themselves.