You can now log into your Microsoft account using Authenticator, Windows Hello, a security key, an SMS, or an email verification code.
Microsoft is ready to let you enter into its passwordless future. Since last week, the tech giant has started allowing users to access their Microsoft accounts using a variety of alternate methods instead of a password.
Microsoft began rolling out passwordless authentication for commercial users in March, with the intention of providing help to those adjusting to the new reality of remote working. In reality, though, it has been working on the feature for years – before the pandemic accelerated the digital transformation.
In 2018, the company enabled security keys, and it also made Windows 10 passwordless in 2019. “When you have digital transformation and businesses having to go remote overnight … the number of digital surfaces has increased exponentially,” explains Vasu Jakkal, corporate vice president of Microsoft security, compliance & identity. “The number of attack surfaces has increased exponentially, so that was a big driving factor for us in accelerating a lot of our security initiatives.”
More than 200 million Microsoft commercial customers are already using the passwordless option, and consumers are expected to easily adopt it.
Removing a password associated with a Microsoft account is a relatively simple process. To do so, the user needs to have the Microsoft Authenticator mobile app installed and linked to their personal Microsoft Account. Once this is set up, the user can then visit account.microsoft.com, to choose advanced security options and enable passwordless accounts in the additional security section.
The change will then need to be approved from the user’s Authenticator app, only the last step before the account becomes password free.
Users can reverse their choice at any time, and reinstate the old password system, but benefits of going passwordless are straightforward, especially when taking into account how easy it is to have your password compromised together with all the other accounts it is associated with.
Other big tech companies, such as Google and Apple, are also working on options that rely less on passwords. It is already possible, for example, to sign in to Google Chrome without a password, and the updates on Apple’s iOS 15 and macOS Monterey include Passkeys in iCloud Keychain, an attempt to replace passwords with a more secure login process.
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