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How Organizations Can Go Passwordless With Microsoft

No one, except cybercriminals, really likes passwords. Login credentials are a common attack vector. Many data breaches each year are often traced back to weak, stolen, or lost passwords. When used correctly, though, passwords can be quite effective. Even then, they are challenging to manage and adversely affect our digital experiences.

At the moment, passwords are still the most prevalent authentication method. But not for long. Last month, Microsoft announced that it is getting rid of passwords and replacing them with better alternatives, such as biometrics-based technologies like Windows Hello and Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA).

Read on to learn how Microsoft’s non-password login options can help you improve security and convenience within your organization.

What is Passwordless Authentication?

Passwordless authentication is any method of verifying users without requiring them to provide a password or any other memorized secret. Instead, users give some form of evidence such as proximity badges or biometrics — facial recognition, fingerprint, iris, etc. — to verify their identities. This type of authentication works in tandem with Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA).

The Problem with Passwords

In the digital era, workers rely on a variety of applications to do their jobs. With the password as the sole means of validating users, digital workers have to memorize numerous usernames and passwords. It’s not only inconvenient, but also incredibly risky. Systems that rely on simple username and password combinations are inherently vulnerable.

Users are easily overwhelmed by the dizzying array of passwords and resort to risky shortcuts, such as reusing passwords, using weak passwords, posting their logins on sticky notes. Threat actors often exploit lax password practices to steal login credentials and use them to launch cyberattacks and data breaches. Going passwordless can mitigate these threats.

A Passwordless Future with Microsoft

If you use Microsoft products such as Windows 10, Microsoft 365, Teams, Microsoft Edge, and Outlook, you’ll be happy to know that you can use any of these applications without a password. It’s now possible to remove the password from your Microsoft account and go completely passwordless. So, how do you get rid of the password?

Windows Hello

Windows Hello Microsoft’s biometrics security technology allows Windows 10 users (and those who upgrade to Windows 11) to access their devices without entering a password. This sign-in mechanism uses a range of biometric technologies, including fingerprint, facial recognition, and iris scan, to authenticate users.

Windows Hello helps solve the two major problems associated with password authentication: security and inconvenience. Passwords are inherently unsafe and hard to remember. Windows Hello is more secure and user-friendly, and for that reason, it’s widely considered to be a great alternative to password authentication.

How It Works

How does Windows Hello work? Windows Hello allows you to use biometrics — physical characteristics unique to you — or a PIN to access your device. You can either sign in using a fingerprint scanner or facial recognition, depending on what’s available on your system. Here are the three Windows Hello options:

  •  Fingerprint. The fingerprint is one of Windows Hello’s integrated biometric authentication mechanisms. This method uses a capacitive fingerprint sensor to scan your fingerprint and authenticate secure access. These newer fingerprint sensors used by Windows Hello are highly reliable and less prone to errors.
  •  Facial Recognition. With the help of a specially configured camera, Windows allows users to authenticate and unlock their devices using their faces. Windows Hello cameras use IR light to differentiate between a photo, a scan, and a living person. Therefore, it’s very difficult to spoof the system with a mask.
  •  Windows Hello PIN. A Windows Hello PIN is an easy-to-remember secret login code that you can use to unlock your computer. Users are required to set up the PIN before enrolling their biometrics. The PIN can only unlock that particular device, and it’s backed by the computer’s Trusted Platform Module (TPM) hardware.

With these options, you can completely remove the password from your Microsoft account. Compared to passwords, using Windows Hello to access your device is easier and significantly faster. These Windows Hello options constitute half of all the sign-in options Windows 10 offers, including a conventional password, picture password, and a security key.

How to set up Windows Hello on Windows 10

If you have a compatible device, setting up Windows Hello is a very simple process. Go to account settings and click on Windows Hello in the sign-in options. From here, you can enroll your fingerprint, iris, and facial recognition. Once you are done setting up, you will be able to unlock access to your device and Microsoft accounts with a scan of a finger or a glance at your device.

If your computer is not compatible with Windows Hello out of the box, you can always get a Windows Hello enabled webcam or fingerprint scanner. Go to Sign-in options to check whether your device is compatible with Windows Hello. You will be able to see whether these biometric options are available.

Microsoft Authenticator App

You can also enjoy most of the benefits of passwordless authentication with Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA). With Microsoft Authenticator App, you completely remove the password after enabling double authentication. It’s simple. First, you need to install the Microsoft Authenticator App and link to your personal Microsoft account.

On your Microsoft account, go to Additional Security Options > Advanced Security Options and turn on Passwordless Account. Follow the on-screen prompts to remove your password completely. You will receive a notification from your authenticator app, and once you approve it, you will have successfully gone passwordless.

Wrapping Up

Going passwordless has many advantages. For instance, using non-password authentication methods eliminates the risk of compromising security due to weak or reused passwords. Passwordless authentication also has a positive impact on the overall user experience. Users don’t have to memorize dozens of passwords and usernames, providing easier access to applications and services.

As a Microsoft partner and a leading Microsoft solutions provider, WPG Consulting can help transform your business, making it fast, efficient, and secure with Microsoft technologies. From cutting-edge security services to technology consulting, our team can deliver comprehensive solutions customized to your organization’s unique needs. Contact us today for more information.

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Written by Hitesh Patel posted on Oct 20, 2021