Microsoft announced that all users can now ditch passwords for Microsoft accounts, an option previously only available for commercial partners.
A future without passwords will not roll out too soon, but a future with fewer passwords is just around the corner. Microsoft is yet another tech giant looking for alternatives to passwords in an effort to give users more security and secure their products at the same time.
The company has been working towards this goal for quite some time and has implemented several alternatives over the years. The more accessible alternatives to replace passwords are the Microsoft Authenticator and the Windows Hello service, but users can receive codes via phones or emails.
“The number of cyberattacks has increased as a result of identity and password theft—as defenders, we really have our work cut out for us in this asymmetric game,” said Vasu Jakkal, Microsoft’s corporate vice president of security, compliance, identity, and management, according to Wired. “Without passwords you get advanced security, and it’s so much easier. It’s just a slam dunk.”
The even better news is that this option expands to most Microsoft products, not just Windows. A top target for criminals is the Office 365 suite, along with Outlook and OneDrive. Many phishing schemes rely on tricking employees into entering their Office 365 credentials on fake websites, but with other forms of authentication, the number of campaigns using this method should drop significantly in the next few years. Some of the older products such as Office 2010 or Xbox 360 will continue to use passwords.
Users need to enable the option to drop the passwords. It’s not something that changes by default. People have to set up alternative ways to log in and Microsoft offers a complete guide and FAQ to help users transition more easily.