In our increasingly digital world, security is paramount. These days, passkeys play a pivotal role in protecting our digital assets. They serve as the keys to unlock secured systems, devices, and online accounts, safeguarding sensitive information and ensuring privacy. But what exactly are passkeys, and how do they compare to traditional passwords? Can they be compromised? In this article, we will delve into the world of passkeys, examining their function, differences from passwords, and the security they provide in our interconnected digital age.

What is a passkey?

A passkey is a modern solution to replace the traditional hassle of memorizing passwords. It's essentially a code or characters that allow you to securely access your accounts on computers and smartphones. This new approach is all about convenience and safety. Instead of trying to remember complex passwords, you can use biometrics like your fingerprint or face scan, or a simple screen lock PIN, to log in securely. Passkeys are used extensively in various contexts, from unlocking smartphones and logging into email accounts to safeguarding confidential data and ensuring the integrity of online transactions. The passkey acts as a virtual key to your online world, making the process more straightforward and robust while reducing the need to remember multiple passwords. It's part of a broader effort to create a more secure, passwordless future.

How do you use a passkey?

Using a passkey to sign into your online accounts is a user-friendly and secure process. It relies on advanced security techniques, particularly public key cryptography, to enhance the authentication experience. When you want to access a website or app on your phone, you simply unlock your device, and there's no need for a traditional password anymore. The passkey securely stored on your device does the heavy lifting, ensuring a safe and efficient login process. Similarly, when signing in on a computer, as long as your phone is nearby, you'll be prompted to unlock it. Once you do, it grants you access on your computer, making the sign-in process seamless and secure. This approach adds an additional layer of security, ensuring that only you, the authorized user, can access your online accounts, all while eliminating the need for complex password memorization.

What platforms support passkeys?

Passkeys find widespread use across various platforms and systems. Tech giants like Apple, Google, and Microsoft have embraced passkeys, making them an integral part of their operating systems. They are commonly employed not only in traditional operating systems like Windows, macOS, and Linux for user account authentication but also in the mobile landscape. Passkeys have become a primary means of access control on smartphones and tablets, with features like PINs, patterns, and biometric passkeys such as fingerprints and facial recognition becoming increasingly prevalent. Online services provided by email providers, social media platforms, and e-commerce websites have also integrated passkeys to enhance security and protect user accounts.

What is the difference between a password and a pass key?

Passkeys and passwords are both security mechanisms designed to protect digital assets, but they differ in their fundamental nature and usage.

Passwords are text-based combinations of characters, whereas passkeys encompass various access codes, including PINs, patterns, biometrics, and cryptographic keys. Passkeys offer more diverse options and are often less vulnerable to common password issues. Passwords are chosen by users, while passkeys are generated by systems or devices. The choice between them depends on specific security needs and usability considerations.

Can passkeys be hacked?

Like any security measure, passkeys are not immune to potential hacking attempts. However, the level of vulnerability largely depends on the complexity of the passkey and the security measures in place. What sets passkeys apart as a robust security mechanism is their use of advanced cryptography and biometrics. Strong passkeys, especially those incorporating elements like encryption and biometrics such as fingerprints or facial recognition, can significantly enhance security. These sophisticated methods make it exceedingly challenging for hackers to gain unauthorized access. Yet, it's essential to remain vigilant. Weak or easily guessable passkeys, as well as poor security practices like sharing or improperly storing passkeys, can increase the risk of hacking.

To maximize protection, it's crucial to create strong, unique passkeys, utilize multi-factor authentication where possible, and stay aware of potential threats. While no security method is entirely foolproof, the use of robust passkeys and adherence to best practices can go a long way in reducing the risk of unauthorized access and bolstering your digital security.

Other Password Solutions

Two-Factor Authentication (2FA)

Two-factor authentication (2FA) is a security measure that adds an extra layer of protection to your accounts. It requires users to provide two different types of identification to verify their identity. This typically involves something you know (like a password) and something you have (like a mobile device).

Apps like Duo Security utilize two-factor authentication by sending a push notification to your mobile device when you attempt to log in. You'll need to approve the login request on your device to complete the authentication process. This ensures that even if someone has your password, they won't be able to access your account without your explicit approval. Duo Security offers a convenient and reliable way to implement two-factor authentication for enhanced account security.

Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA)

Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) is another essential security measure that further enhances the protection of digital assets beyond two-factor authentication (2FA). MFA requires users to provide more than two types of identification to authenticate their identity. These identification methods typically fall into three categories: something you know (such as a password), something you have (like a smart card or a mobile device), and something you are (biometric data like fingerprints or facial recognition).

While 2FA is a subset of MFA and requires two types of identification, MFA could potentially require three or more. For instance, a system with MFA may require a password, a one-time code sent to a mobile device, and biometric data to verify a user's identity. This adds an even stronger layer of security, making it significantly more challenging for unauthorized users to gain access. MFA is particularly useful in environments that require high levels of security, such as banking or corporate settings.

Strong Passwords

Having strong passwords is crucial for protecting your online accounts. With the increasing number of cyber threats, it's essential to ensure that your passwords are unique and complex. This is where password management software like LastPass comes in handy.

LastPass allows you to securely store all your passwords in one place. It eliminates the need to remember multiple passwords by providing a secure vault where you can store and organize your credentials. Additionally, LastPass can generate strong, random passwords for you, ensuring that each of your accounts has a unique and robust password.

To craft your own strong password, adhere to these key criteria:

  • Length: Opt for passwords with at least 12 characters, as longer passwords are generally more robust.
  • Complexity: Combine uppercase letters, lowercase letters, numbers, and special characters (e.g., !, @, #, $, %) for added complexity.
  • Unpredictability: Avoid easily guessable words, phrases, or personal information, making your password truly unpredictable.
  • Uniqueness: Never reuse passwords across different accounts. Each account should have its distinct password.
  • Regular Updates: Periodically change your passwords, particularly for critical accounts.

By embracing these principles, you can fortify your digital defenses against potential threats. Moreover, consider adopting a password manager like LastPass to assure the safety of your accounts. You can have peace of mind knowing that your passwords are securely stored and easily accessible whenever you need them.

Other Things That Should Be Secure

Web Domain Security

When it comes to web domain security, the first step is using HTTPS (Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure) protocol. This ensures that all the information exchanged between your browser and the website is encrypted and kept safe. Additionally, enabling DNSSEC (Domain Name System Security Extensions) adds an extra layer of protection by verifying the information in the DNS (Domain Name System) and preventing any tricks or fraudulent activities.

Email Server Security

Email servers are often targeted by hackers who want to steal information. To protect yourself, there are a few security measures you can take. Implementing things like SPF (Sender Policy Framework), DKIM (DomainKeys Identified Mail), and DMARC (Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting, and Conformance) can help prevent email spoofing and phishing attacks. These measures make sure that the emails you receive are actually coming from who they claim to be. It's also important to keep your email server software up to date by regularly installing updates and patches. This helps to keep any potential threats at bay.

Cloud Storage System Security

Cloud storage systems like SharePoint also prioritize security. One effective way is by enforcing strong access controls, ensuring only authorized personnel can access specific data. Utilizing encryption for data in transit and at rest, regular backups, and multi-factor authentication can further enhance data security. Regular audits for potential security gaps and user training on security best practices are also essential in maintaining a secure cloud environment.

With these security measures, businesses can significantly reduce the risk of cyber threats, maintain the integrity of their data, and enhance user trust.

DiscoverTec Can Help Keep Your Systems Secure

At DiscoverTec, we offer secure hosting solutions that safeguard your website and email communications, providing you with peace of mind and a reliable online presence. For more information on how we can help secure your systems, contact us today!

Published on: October 17, 2023 by Donny Lamey, CEO