Microsoft Rings Death Knell For Computer Passwords With Windows Hello As The Secure Solution

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How good are you at remembering passwords? If you're like most computer users, probably not very good at all. Given the dozens (or more) websites that we interact with on a daily basis, remembering long and complicated passwords can be a chore. Some users take advantage of browser autofill technology to help take the sting out of remembering tedious passwords, while others simply use the same basic, insecure password for every secure site that they visit.

Those in the latter category are prone to being compromised, as we've recently reported. Given how insecure passwords have become these days, Microsoft is trying to push us towards what it thinks is a viable alternative. The answer, of course, lies in biometric sensors to identify and authenticate a user. With today's computers and smartphones, that authentication takes place using a fingerprint reader or some sort of facial recognition.

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Microsoft says that its push to get customers to adopt biometric sensors for authentication has proven fruitful in Windows 10. According to the company, around 70 percent of Windows 10 users that have a biometric-equipped device use Windows Hello instead of a traditional password.

“We are encouraging users to try it, and see for themselves that it is easier to use than passwords,” says Rob Lefferts, director of program management for Windows Enterprise and Security. “I think one of the fears that people have is that new technology is just going to be more complicated, and not realize that we’ve pushed to make it simpler and better.”

In the end, Microsoft says that industries need to rethink how we approach security as a whole to protect personal identities and sensitive information. “For several decades, the industry has focused on securing devices,” says Bret Arsenault, Microsoft corporate VP and chief information security officer. “That model needs a makeover. Securing devices is important, but it’s not enough. We should also be focused on securing individuals. We can enhance your experience and security by letting you become the password.”

Microsoft also practices what is preaches. The company has a workforce of over 125,000 employees spread encompassing 100 subsidiaries worldwide. According to Arsenault, "the majority of Microsoft employees" use Windows Hello for Business to login instead of a password. “Very soon we expect all of our employees will be able to go completely password free," he added.

We should note that no security solution is completely foolproof. As we reported last week, even Windows Hello can be compromised if certain precautions are not taken by the user (and the hardware OEM incorporating the biometric security device).