Quick Overview of Passkeys vs Passwords

passkeys vs passwords

Lately there has been much talk about passkeys vs passwords. Apple’s iOS 17 is offering the capability and there are already much available on references to implementing passkeys across Microsoft’s various platforms, namely Microsoft 365.

That said, I can provide an overview of what “passkeys” might refer to and the advantages they could potentially offer compared to traditional passwords. Please note that the term “passkeys” might be used differently in various contexts, and the information provided here is speculative based on general security principles.

1. Definition of Passkeys

A “passkey” is a unique cryptographic token or credential used for authentication and access control. Unlike passwords, which are strings of characters, a passkey is typically a small hardware device (like a USB key or smart card) or a software-based cryptographic key stored on a secure element of a device.

2. Potential Advantages of Passkeys over Passwords

A. Stronger Security: Passkeys can offer stronger security compared to passwords. Passwords can be easily cracked through brute-force attacks, dictionary attacks, or phishing attempts. In contrast, passkeys use cryptographic algorithms and private keys, making them more resistant to common hacking techniques.

B. Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA): Passkeys can be part of a multi-factor authentication (MFA) approach, providing an additional layer of security beyond a username and password. MFA requires users to present at least two forms of authentication, which significantly reduces the risk of unauthorized access.

C. Phishing Resistance: Traditional passwords are susceptible to phishing attacks where users are tricked into providing their credentials on fake websites. Passkeys, especially hardware-based ones, can be more resilient to phishing attempts as they often require physical interaction or presence.

D. No Password Memorization: Users often struggle with memorizing complex passwords, leading them to use weak and easily guessable passwords. With passkeys, users don’t need to remember complex strings of characters, which can improve overall security by avoiding password reuse or weak password practices.

E. Reduced Credential Sharing: Passwords are frequently shared among users, which compromises security. Passkeys, especially physical ones, are typically tied to a specific individual and are harder to share or duplicate.

F. Protection against Keyloggers: Passkeys, especially hardware-based ones, can be resistant to keyloggers because they often require a physical action (e.g., inserting a USB key) rather than typing in a password.

3. Challenges and Considerations:

A. Cost and Implementation: Deploying passkey-based authentication may involve initial costs for hardware tokens or smart cards, making it less practical for some organizations or individuals.

B. Loss or Damage:  Physical passkeys can be lost or damaged, leading to potential access issues. Proper backup and recovery mechanisms need to be in place.

C. User Convenience: While passkeys offer better security, they might be less convenient for users compared to passwords, especially if they frequently switch devices or don’t have their passkey at hand.

D. Adoption and Standardization: Introducing passkeys requires widespread adoption and standardization to ensure compatibility across different systems and services.

In summary, passkeys, if they exist as a recognized concept beyond my knowledge cutoff, could potentially offer enhanced security and usability compared to traditional passwords. However, like any authentication method, they have their own set of challenges and considerations that need to be addressed for successful implementation. As technology evolves, new authentication mechanisms continue to emerge, striving to strike a balance between security, usability, and convenience.

Imagine you have a special key that only you can use to open a secret door. This special key is called a “passkey.” Instead of using a password, which is like a secret word you have to remember, this key is something you can hold in your hand.

Here’s why passkeys are cool:

1. Super Safe: Passkeys are way safer than passwords. Passwords can be easily guessed, but passkeys are like magic keys that bad guys can’t easily figure out.

2. Extra Protection: Passkeys give you extra protection like wearing a superhero cape. They work with your normal username to make sure only you can get into your account.

3. No Need to Remember:  With passwords, you have to remember tricky words, but passkeys don’t need that! You just use your special key, and the door opens magically.

4. Can’t be Stolen as Easily: Passkeys are like secret treasure maps that only you can see. Bad people can’t easily steal your special key like they can steal a password.

5. Sharing is Harder:  Passwords can be shared with friends, but passkeys are like your own magical wand – you can’t share it easily, so it’s even more special.

But, like anything special, passkeys also have some things to keep in mind:

1. Don’t Lose it! Just like you don’t want to lose your favorite toy, you need to be careful not to lose your special key. Keep it safe!

2. Not for All Doors: Passkeys work for some doors, but not all. Some places might still use passwords, so you’ll have to remember those tricky words too.

So, remember, passkeys are like secret, magical keys that only you can use to keep your stuff safe! Just be sure to take good care of your special key, and you’ll be a little security superhero! 

Hopefully, you better understand the “passkeys vs passwords” argument after reading this.