An Introduction to Passkey authentication

An Introduction to Passkey authentication

Opinion 05 May 2023 2 minutes 364 words

Passkey is hot right now, so we thought we’d write a quick overview.

So what is Passkey?

Passkey-based authentication is a security mechanism where a user or a system is granted access to a resource or service using a unique and temporary passkey. The passkey is a secret value, typically a string of characters or a cryptographic token, that is used to verify the identity of the user or system. The main idea behind passkey-based authentication is to provide a secure and convenient alternative to traditional username and password-based authentication schemes.

How it works

Here’s an overview of how passkey-based authentication works:

  1. A user or system requests access to a protected resource or service.
  2. The authentication system generates a unique and temporary passkey for the user or system.
  3. The passkey is sent to the user or system via a secure communication channel, such as email, SMS, or a secure messaging app.
  4. The user or system provides the received passkey to the authentication system.
  5. The authentication system verifies the correctness and validity of the passkey.
  6. If the passkey is correct and valid, the user or system is granted access to the requested resource or service.

Why use it

Passkey-based authentication has several benefits:

  • Enhanced Security: Passkeys are typically generated using cryptographically secure random number generators, making them difficult to guess or crack.
  • Temporary Access: Passkeys are usually time-limited, which means they expire after a certain period or after being used, reducing the risk of unauthorized access.
  • Convenience: Users don’t have to remember complex passwords; they only need to provide the passkey they receive via the communication channel.

What are the issues

Passkey-based authentication has some drawbacks:

  • Reliance on External Channels: The authentication process depends on the security and reliability of the communication channel used to deliver the passkey.
  • Potential for Phishing: Attackers may attempt to trick users into revealing their passkeys by impersonating the authentication system.
  • Inconvenience: Users may find it bothersome to repeatedly request and enter passkeys for authentication.

Despite these drawbacks, passkey-based authentication can be an effective security measure when implemented correctly and combined with other authentication methods, such as multi-factor authentication (MFA) or risk-based authentication.

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