In early 2023, the 1Password manager will gain a password-free login feature called “Passkeys.” It’s an interesting concept that could increase users’ security and convenience, and customers can test a live demo at the 1Password website.
While passwordless login may seem like a futuristic idea, it already exists through the FIDO security standard (which is most commonly used in hardware security keys). Major players like Microsoft, Apple, and Google are all working with the FIDO alliance to advance this technology, which relies on a system of encrypted keys and authentication processes to verify a user’s identity.
Here’s what the passwordless future will look like; instead of writing, memorizing, or saving passwords, your devices (PCs, phones, etc) will generate secure Passkeys for every app or website. These secure Passkeys won’t work until your device verifies your identity through biometric scanning (such as a fingerprint scan) or a hardware key. So, even if some dude manages to steal your encrypted login credentials (or even your laptop), he can’t access any of your data.
Now, I don’t really trust demos, and I expect that 1Password’s Passkeys implementation will change over time. But the Passkeys demo currently available to 1Password subscribers is pretty impressive. You create a username for a fake service, and a Passkey is automatically generated. From there, logging in requires zero effort.
This is where we ask why 1Password is pursuing this technology. Companies like Google, Apple, and Microsoft are already working on passwordless login, and they will probably offer the service for free. Why pay for 1Password’s version?
Well, here’s the thing; we need passwordless login to be “platform agnostic.” Secure passkeys shouldn’t be stuck on your iCloud account, for example, as this would prevent you from switching to Android or Windows.
The FIDO alliance stands firmly against lock-in, and 1Password (a member of the alliance) hopes to encourage big companies in the right direction. But for the time being, 1Password is one of the few services that is guaranteed to offer cross-platform support for passwordless login. (After all, cross-platform support is the reason why password managers exist.)