Microsoft has reaffirmed its security credentials, with a pledge to move all its users away from traditional alphanumeric passwords to something significantly more secure.
Though passwords have long been used by companies large and small, they’re actually among the easiest security measures to crack – certainly more so than biometrics or time-sensitive pin codes. As such, there have been calls from businesses and cybercrime experts alike to roll out a replacement across the entire digital world and do away with passwords for good.
The biggest company leading this charge is Microsoft, which itself spends in the region of $1 billion (£770 million) every year on security.
It has already made moves in the world of biometrics, with Windows Hello using facial recognition software to let users log into their devices and certain apps. With most laptop and mobile devices now coming with a camera located just above the screen, this isn’t only a more secure option, but more convenient too.
To make this technology more secure still, Microsoft is using two cameras on fully Windows Hello-equipped devices, to 3D map each user’s face to better protect against spoofing. These cameras also have infra-red capabilities, to still allow it to effectively read faces in different lights and to accommodate certain minor changes (such as growth in facial hair or the person wearing makeup).
Elsewhere, the tech giant has enabled easy two-factor authentication for Azure users, through its Authenticator app. For this, users log into Azure on their desktop devices using a one-time passcode sent to their app – which itself uses fingerprint scanning as authentication. These processes, Microsoft claims, protect users against 99.9% of cyber-attacks.
Of course, Microsoft has very good reason for investing so much time, effort and money in combatting cyber-crime. In the UK alone last year, the most disruptive attacks resulted in companies losing an average of £70,000. Not only that, 24% of attacks came into the top bracket, for which victims lost more than £700,000.
Microsoft president Brad Smith said: “Within any security scenario, you’re only as strong as the weakest link. Securing the world’s computer network requires all of us to recognize the need to increase the capability and resilience of the world’s computer networks. “Protecting our online environment is in everyone’s interest.”