Google has established passkeys as the default method for logging into accounts – in a bid to kill off old-fashioned passwords for good.
The search giant is just one of many tech firms that have developed new ways of trying to end the reliance on traditional passwords once and for all. Though rather ubiquitous, alphanumeric passwords have long been known to be a poor option for security, being significantly easier to crack than alternatives such as fingerprint scans or facial recognition. What’s more, with users having access to tens or even hundreds of online accounts, it can be all too easy to re-use old passwords – and thereby put more accounts at risk if logins that are re-used elsewhere get disclosed.
Now, Google has taken steps to make passkeys the default option for logging into accounts – meaning users have to actively opt out if they want to continue to use their traditional passwords.
‘Passkey’ is simply the catch-all term for any of these newer, more secure options (specific examples highlighted by Google were fingerprint, face scan and screen lock).
In a blog, Google appeared keen to play down the enormity of this change, noting that passkeys are already widely used by Apple and Microsoft, and have recently launched on Uber and eBay. They’re also heading to WhatsApp shortly.
It also said that users who had already made the switch were “really positive” in their feedback.
This tone from even a company as large as Google really illustrates the scale of the job at hand, suggesting that people still need encouragement to give up on traditional passwords, even when they’re fully aware of the dangers they pose.
However, Google has ploughed on, saying that its longer-term aim is to make passwords “a rarity, and eventually obsolete.”
Users will soon be presented with a prompt to create a passkey to use when logging into Google services from then on. In the short term users will still be able to switch this off if they wish, although the functionality to do so is likely to only be offered for a limited time.
“Passwordless is something we set out to achieve 10-plus years ago,” a Google spokesperson said, adding that the company was “thrilled” to be on the next step of the journey.
This article is from our Autumn 2023 SoundBytes Newsletter. To read other articles from the newsletter, please click on the links below: