Today there are more ways than ever before to authenticate your identity when trying to access a device. We’ve got more phones with fingerprint scanners than at any other time in history, and companies are always coming up with new login techniques, like NFC-enabled body stickers. As all those fingerprint scanners can attest to, biometric ID systems are hot, and improving technology only promises to make them better. Today we learn of a new effort from Microsoft to embrace all these disparate security measures, as it announces Windows Hello for Windows 10.
Windows Hello delivers system-level support for biometric authentication, ranging from the aforementioned fingerprint scanners, to iris- and facial-recognition cameras. This extends from full-on PCs to tablets and Windows smartphones. While future hardware may be designed with Hello in mind, upgrading users will still be able to take advantage of existing fingerprint scanners, though you’ll need special camera hardware for the iris/facial-recognition mode to work (which your average webcam won’t deliver). The need for that restriction is to better help Hello distinguish a real person from a high-res photo.
Beyond Windows Hello, Microsoft is also introducing a programming system codenamed Passport that will allow devs to offer secure login services within their apps and sites. The framework is designed to eliminate the need to share full passwords with multiple services, cutting down on the risk to the end user should one end up compromised – even if a website using Passport is cracked, that data can’t be used to connect to any other Passport-using sites.
Windows Hello and Passport will both be part of Windows 10 as it ships, but Microsoft isn’t forcing biometric authentication upon anyone – whether you choose to take advantage of it or not is still up to you.