Microsoft estimates that 2020 has been a big year for moving away from the password-based authentication system that has ruled over the past six decades.
American computer scientist Fernando Corbato developed the Compatible Time Sharing System (CTSS).
This system allowed people to share the processing power of the computer, but it also required a way to protect the personal files of these users.
Corbato helped people protect their files in the 1960s, but over the past decade the computer industry has been trying to get rid of that protection because people choose weak passwords.
Databases are compromised all the time, and people tend to reuse passwords across low-value, high-value sites.
This becomes a problem when hackers breach the database and discover the secret keys of millions of online accounts.
Besides the individual security risks of pin numbers, this method of authentication is very costly to administer in the organization as well.
Microsoft quotes a phrase from a report by market research firm Gartner that says: Up to half of the calls to the technical support office are for resetting passwords.
Over the past few years, companies like Microsoft, Apple, and Google have tried to design password-less authentication within the FIDO Alliance.
Microsoft revealed last year that 90 percent of its employees use a password-less authentication system.
Key technologies for password-free authentication include Windows Hello biometrics for access to Azure AD networks, applications that support Microsoft Authenticator, and FIDO2-based security keys.
According to Microsoft, 150 million people use Microsoft’s systems without PIN numbers every month.
Microsoft’s next password elimination effort includes new FIDO2 security key management tools that help customers build ways for users to manage their own authentication methods, such as phone numbers and email addresses.
According to Microsoft, the use of password-free mechanisms in Azure AD networks grew by 50 percent in favor of Windows Hello, the Microsoft Authenticator app, and FIDO2 security keys.
Users are embracing the abandonment of secret numbers, as 84.7 percent of people in 2020 chose Windows Hello to log into Windows 10 computers instead of a password, which is up from 69.4 percent in 2019.