Microsoft announced some big news today. The company now allows everyone to remove their passwords from their Microsoft accounts and log in without one, all while significantly improving the security of user accounts.
Microsoft now allows users to sign in using the Microsoft Authenticator app, Windows Hello, a security key, or even via SMS or an email verification code. Microsoft claims that the mentioned options offer a lot more security and protection than using passwords. The new option to sign in comes months after the company started using and testing this with commercial users in March.
The company has been working on offering passwordless login for many years, in fact, it started working on it over four years ago. The current pandemic has only accelerated the development as more people worked from home, and more suffered from resetting and trying to figure out their passwords. The number of cyberattacks have also increased over the last year; since more people were spending time at home, hackers and scammers knew they could reach their target more easily.
The way it all works is fairly simple. All you have to do is download the Microsoft Authenticator app for your device (available on both Android and iOS), and link your already existing Microsoft Account. Once that’s all complete, you can visit account.microsoft.com and choose advanced security options and enable the passwordless account option for additional security. You then have to approve the changes in the Authenticator app, and you’re ready to go. If you ever change your mind and want to go back to using passwords, you can go back into the settings and disable the option.
Having no passwords to sign in gives you more freedom and far fewer headaches when you have to quickly log in to a service. It also offers a lot more security than a simple password of eight characters, which people often re-use. Password managers are also a great way to manage all passwords and log into services, but they can also be compromised.
Also, keep in mind that Google and Apple also offer similar passwordless services on their own, although they still require an SMS, verification code, or other methods to prove your identity when logging in from a new device or from a new location.