New technology alliance pledges to revolutionize online passwords | Bangkok Post: tech

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New technology alliance pledges to revolutionize online passwords

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The FIDO (Fast Identity Online) Alliance is dedicated to working together to simplify and strengthen the online authentication process and is made up of a number of the world's leading technology companies, including Lenovo and PayPal. 

The FIDO Alliance was formed to develop and support the adoption of simpler yet stronger alternatives to traditional passwords.

The group has formed in response to the growing need for online passwords in everyday life and the fact that existing methods of internet-based authentication are weak, open to malware and phishing attacks and therefore put users at risk of financial and identity theft.

Research by Janrain published this week highlights that consumers are beginning to suffer from password fatigue as the number of internet-based accounts and services the average person needs every day continues to grow. It found that more than half of the 660 participants had five or more passwords and logins that they needed to remember on a daily basis. It also revealed that 92 percent of respondents admitted to abandoning a website during sign-in rather than have to go through the added struggle of resetting or recovering their password information.

To address both security risks and password fatigue, FIDO aims to create a standards-based open protocol that all companies and services in the online space can adopt and use to change the way consumers log in and identify themselves. The standard would support existing alternatives to traditional passwords, such as NFC (near-field communication) and USB tokens that are plugged into devices like a key before using the internet as well as paving the way for new approaches such as biometrics like fingerprint, voice or facial recognition.

"The Internet -- especially with recent rapid mobile and cloud expansion -- exposes users and enterprises, more than ever before, to fraud. It's critical to know who you're dealing with on the Internet. The FIDO Alliance is a private sector and industry-driven collaboration to combat the very real challenge of confirming every user's identity online," said Michael Barrett, FIDO Alliance president and PayPal Chief Information Security Officer. "By giving users choice in the way they authenticate and taking an open-based approach to standards, we can make universal online authentication a reality. We want every company, vendor, and organization that needs to verify user identity to join us in making online authentication easier and safer for users everywhere."

In FIDO's vision of the future, any FIDO-enabled device, be it a USB token, or even a mobile handset like a smartphone, would work in lieu of traditional authentication methods and grant the owner immediate, secure access to the online service or account.

"IDC forecasts the strong authentication market to realize more than $2.2 billion in revenues alone by 2016. This demand is driven by social networking, internet, cloud and mobile, all of which will require higher and higher levels of authentication by governments, corporations and consumers," said Sally Hudson, IDC Research Director, Security Products and Services. "We believe that standards based, automated solutions such as those advocated by FIDO will contribute greatly toward making this a reality."

As such, though already supported by Lenovo, Nok Nok Labs, PayPal, Validity and Agnitio, the FIDOAlliance is actively inviting more companies and organizations to become active members and help define and contribute to the initiative to ensure it is global, open and inclusive.

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