Apple is working toward a password-free future with a new iCloud Keychain “passkey” feature that was unveiled at WWDC 2021.
In a WWDC developer session called “Go beyond passwords, “Apple teased a new feature called” passwords in iCloud keychain. “The feature is available to test on iOS 15 and macOS Monterey, but it’s not ready for a full version yet.
Basically, access keys are public and private key pairs based on the WebAuthn standard. They basically work like a hardware security key, but they are stored securely in iCloud Keychain.
This means that users will not need to carry hardware keys with them; your iPhone, iPad or Mac will contain the passkey. More than that, passwords will be synced across multiple devices, which means they are recoverable even if a user loses all of their devices. Compared to traditional passwords, these keys offer a number of security benefits. They can’t be guessed, can’t be reused across services, and aren’t vulnerable to spoofing or data breaches.
For users, passwords will offer an easy and secure alternative to passwords. When implemented, all a user will need to do is authenticate with Face ID to log in. Passwords in iCloud Keychain could be used anywhere that WebAuthn supports. Currently, that includes browsers and applications on Apple platforms, but the standard is still a few years away from full adoption.
As mentioned above, the inclusion of passwords in iOS 15 and macOS Monterey is for developer testing only; actually, it’s not a function yet. Apple says testing the feature in existing applications and workflows is just the first step in a “multi-year effort to replace passwords.”
Although users won’t be able to use passwords right away, Apple has a host of other security and privacy features in iOS 15 and macOS Monterey. That includes a new built-in authenticator for two-factor logins, a private relay feature that encrypts web traffic and hides a user’s IP address, and a feature that will allow users to create proxy email addresses.
Apple isn’t the only company looking to a password-free future. Google at its I / O conference in May detailed a number of new privacy and security features aimed at replacing passwords.
Follow all WWDC 2021 with complete information AppleInsider One-week event coverage June 7-11, including details on iOS 15, iPadOS 15, watchOS 8, macOS Monterey, and more.
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