Passkeys for Startups and small and medium enterprises

User trying to access an application with a passkey for startups and small and medium enterprises

Passkey is an innovative passwordless authentication solution that works now on Windows devices. You can also easily manage it with Intune, Microsoft’s acclaimed cloud-based endpoint management service. Within this article, we uncover how Passkey works on Windows. Futhermore we will show you how it integrates with Intune to provide a secure and convenient login experience for users and administrators.

What are Passkeys?

Passkeys are based on the Fast Identity Online (FIDO) standard. This framework outlines the use of cryptographic keys for authenticating users to online services. FIDO keys come in hardware forms like USB tokens or smart cards, as well as software-based options like mobile apps or biometric sensors. These keys are registered with the online service and linked to the user’s identity. When logging in, users simply present their FIDO key to the service, which verifies the user’s ownership of the key and grants access.

How do Passkeys work?

In broad terms, your device generates a pair of interconnected keys. A private one that remains securely stored on your device, and a public key that is shared with the service you want to log into. These two keys are interrelated. A ‘secret’ locked by one key can only be unlocked by the other key.

Given this interrelation, the service is now able to verify if it’s your device logging in by just asking you to lock the ‘secret’ with your private key. If the online service successfully unlocks it using the corresponding public key, it must be you therefore verifying the authentication.

Now, one could argue that, if someone steals your device, they might be able to log in to any service for which you’ve stored a passkey. To address this concern, passkeys are further safeguarded by your device’s authentication mechanism. Whether it’s a PIN, Fingerprint, FaceID, or Windows Hello, whichever preference or existing setup you may have. 

This solution essentially renders passwords unnecessary and provides a convenient login process for users. Additionally, you have the flexibility to create multiple Passkeys for your devices. This will ensure uninterrupted access in case of device malfunction or loss.

Are Passkeys secure?

From the perspective of security, passkeys offer a significant improvement over traditional password authentication and even standard two-factor authentication (2FA). With passkeys there is simply nothing that can be stolen in the authentication process itself. Passkeys involve no transfer of the ‘secret’ over the channel with the service during authentication. This eliminates any potential vulnerability in the process. This means attackers have nothing to exploit to gain unauthorized access on your behalf. 

Moreover, passkeys employ proven asymmetric cryptography, bolstering the security of the keys. By leveraging the strong security features already inherent in devices, passkeys effectively safeguard access to services and sensitive company data.

Perhaps the most notable advantage is the elimination of passwords altogether. This means that there’s no more need for password reuse or reliance on weak, easily guessable passwords. This results in dramatically enhanced security for your accounts.

If you have questions on this topic or other security-related matters, our friends at Cryptix Security can help you out.

What does this mean for Startups and Small and Medium Enterprises?

Having a powerful solution like Passkeys available at your fingertips makes the management of credentials significantly easier right from the start.

As passkeys integrate with EntraID, it allows you to seamlessly manage your users and their credentials. All this while leveraging existing proven processes and tools. This means you can implement a cutting-edge, highly secure authentication solution without the hassle of installing additional tools or acquiring extra licenses. Simply configure your MS365 Tenance Device Policies  in Intune to enable passwordless Authentication for your users, and you’re good to go.

Interested in trying it out? Get in touch with us at IT4Startups, and let’s bring that user-friendly technology to your employees!

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