Microsoft Accounts Now Support Passwordless Login via FIDO 2 Security Keys

Alfred Osborne
November 21, 2018

For those unfamiliar, FIDO2 authentication keys are standard-based devices that allow users to sign in to online services without a password. If you do lose your primary security key and you don't have a backup key, you may not be able to get back into your accounts-at least if the services that use FIDO2 keys don't compromise that security by offering recovery options with weaker security. I'm happy to share that Microsoft is the first Fortune 500 company to support password-less authentication using the the WebAuthn and FIDO2 specifications, and Microsoft Edge supports the widest array of authenticators compared to other major browsers. And its Microsoft Edge web browser now supports the widest array of authenticators compared to other major browsers, Microsoft says.

Enabling password-less logins is relatively easy, as you simply have to open up the Microsoft account website. Their objective was to give users a way to log into websites without needing any passwords-just a hardware token, such as a USB security key. "In fact, we dislike them so much that we've been busy at work trying to create a world without them-a world without passwords".

"This combination of ease of use, security and broad industry support is going to be transformational", stated Microsoft in an announcement.

Create a PIN (or enter an existing PIN if you have already created one). Then, navigate to Security "more security options". This generates a unique public-private key pair between your key and your Microsoft account, and only the key stores the private key.

Once your security key is configured, when you try to log into a Microsoft service, you will be prompted to press the button on your key to automatically authenticate you and log you in.

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You will be redirected to the setup experience where you will insert or tap your key.

Take the follow-up action by touching your security key.

The company said on Tuesday that it now supports a form of Windows login using a USB key that contains unique encrypted information and which bypasses the need for a password-or even an account name.

At the Additional Security Options page, scroll down and under the section "Windows Hello and security keys" click on the Set up a security key link.

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