"It is easier to build a strong child than to repair a broken man." - Frederick Douglass

Microsoft Moves to Password-Free Logins for Consumer Accounts

Image Courtesy of Isriya Paireepairit (Flickr CC0)

Using technology means remembering passwords — lots of them from banking accounts to social media. However, in a strategic move to decrease the possibility of hacking, Microsoft announced it launched a password-free option for its consumer account holders on Sept. 15, 2021.

Microsoft is formally retiring written passwords for personal accounts, aligning its policies with those instituted for corporate accounts in March. These accounts include Outlook, OneDrive, and Family Safety.

The entire computer and information technology industry reexamines its decades-long dependence on “shared secret” passwords, those known to both a service provider and end-user. Unfortunately, remembering the email-password combination can be as frustrating as a forgotten password for those with multiple email accounts.

Image Courtesy of anandirc (Flickr CC0)

In an emailed statement, Vasu Jakkal, Microsoft’s corporate vice president of security, compliance, and identity, wrote that businesses know people hate passwords. He added that about 30 percent of people report they would rather stop using a service or account rather than deal with resetting their password. “Imagine the shopping carts, memberships, or accounts that have been abandoned because of password issues,” Jakkal mused.

Since remembering passwords — possibly hundreds or more — can be tedious, many people reuse them across sites and apps. Unfortunately, this habit is problematic for the end-user as it enables hackers to break into multiple accounts after accessing a single password by breaching a company’s server. Cybercriminals also use phishing schemes to obtain passwords or purchase them on the dark Web. According to The Washington Post:

Microsoft says there are 579 password attacks every second, or 18 billion a year.

Joining the passwordless bandwagon with Microsoft is easy once the Microsoft Authenticator for Android or iOS is installed and set up. For computers, Windows 10 and 11 have a built-in authentication system called Windows Hello, which allows the user to sign in to their account using their face, fingerprint, or personal identification number (PIN). The combination of a security key or verification code and biometrics offers a greater level of security than a password alone.

Go to the company’s website for instructions to set up passwordless login credentials. Until more programs have built-in authentication systems, using a password manager is the next best thing. If offered the ability to have added security by agreeing to two-step security, it may be wise to accept such an offer, especially in today’s age of cybercriminals.

Written by Cathy Milne-Ware


The Washington Post: Microsoft is going password-free for consumer accounts; by Tatum Hunter

Featured and Top Image Courtesy of anandirc’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License
Inset Image Courtesy of sriya Paireepairit’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License

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