Microsoft has been pushing to get away from passwords for some time now and the company isn’t alone. There is no real debate anymore when it comes to how secure passwords are. Thanks to the continuous advancements in technology, it gets harder and harder to come up with a password that that can’t be easily cracked by a bot (or botnet). Especially, if quantum computing enters the hands of the masses (in a fully functioning capacity, at least).
Many sites and services have been moving forward to support passphrases. These are passwords with multiple words vs your normal single-word/line password (like “h3r3 lI35 my c0put3r” vs “5gbhf4jf5ghn” or “bobscomputer”). This greatly improves the security of your password. However, even that will only last so long as password cracking technology catches up.
This is why 2FA is catching on so strong, regardless of how annoying it may be to some, having to take the time to complete one extra step of authentication before being able to log into something.
Microsoft is taking it one step further by offering the ability to illuminate the password altogether. The company has announced that it is ready to finally roll out the updates necessary to trade the use of passwords out for more secure options. This will allow you to log into virtually anything that makes use of a Microsoft Account as credentials (Windows, OneDrive, Outlook, etc), with additional products supporting it in the near future as it works to roll the updates out everywhere.
You’ll find the updates rolling out over the next few weeks. Once the option is available, you’ll be able to ditch your password for the Microsoft Authenticator app, Windows Hello, a security key, or a verification code sent to your phone or email. You can also opt to keep the password and take the route of using MFA/2FA (multi-factor or two-factor authentication) by pairing it with one of the other options. However, it is best to assume that eventually, the company will find a way to force users away from using passwords completely (no longer offering the feature). You should have a lot of time before that happens though.
This is part of the company’s big push toward a more secure world. Just like the strict requirements of the upcoming Windows 11 operating system that has users divided (some still prefer flexibility over security it seems). Here’s hoping this will be enough to up the defense against the ever-growing hacking community.