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Maximizing Security: Combining Security Keys and Biometrics

Security keys and biometrics in multi-factor authentication for maximum data security.

In today's digital landscape, where cyber threats are abundant, ensuring robust security measures is paramount. Since traditional methods of single-factor authentication, such as passwords, have proven to be vulnerable to breaches, the FIDO Alliance developed FIDO2 to address the password problem. FIDO2 encompassed two core components: Web Authentication (WebAuthn) and Client to Authenticator Protocol (CTAP). WebAuthn enables passwordless and multi-factor authentication on web browsers, while CTAP facilitates communication between authenticators, such as security keys, and client devices. To build upon the foundation and further integrate biometrics into the authentication flow, FIDO2.1 has been introduced. It includes improved support for biometric login on compatible services (such as Azure deployments using Windows Hello for Business), expanded capabilities for secure communication in CTAP2 services, enhanced device attestation, better biometric management, and more. In this article, we will delve into the innovative solutions that combine security keys and biometrics, leveraging the latest advancements with FIDO2.1 and passwordless login to take security to the next level.

MacBook with a VeriMark Security Key on a wooden table.

FIDO2, FIDO2.1 and CTAP2: Revolutionizing Authentication

FIDO and FIDO2.1 have transformed the authentication landscape by making biometric login a reality on services that support this technology. By eliminating the need for passwords and introducing secure authentication methods, FIDO2 and FIDO2.1 enhance security while providing a seamless user experience.

One of the powerful solutions that FIDO2 and FIDO2.1 enable is the integration of security keys with biometric authentication for advanced multi-factor authentication (MFA). With tap-and-go security keys, users can combine the convenience of physical possession factors with the enhanced security of biometrics. This approach ensures that only authorized individuals with both the physical key and the corresponding biometric data can access sensitive information or perform critical operations.

Security related illustrations on a black background.

Under FIDO2, CTAP2 services provide secure communication between authenticators, such as security keys, and client devices. By leveraging CTAP2, biometric authentication can be seamlessly integrated into the authentication process. This allows users to authenticate themselves using their biometric data, such as fingerprints or facial recognition, on services and platforms that support CTAP2. FIDO2.1 offers additional advantages, including enterprise attestation, cross-origin iFrame support, support for Apple attestations, better biometric management, large blob support, and resident credential improvements. The combination of security keys and biometrics offers unparalleled security, as both possession and inherence factors are required for successful authentication.

In addition, Azure deployments using Windows Hello take advantage of the FIDO protocols to provide passwordless login experiences. By utilizing biometric data, such as Windows Hello facial recognition or fingerprint recognition, users can access Azure services and systems without the need for traditional passwords. This not only enhances security but also eliminates the hassle and vulnerability associated with passwords.

It is important to keep in mind that as biometric authentication gains prominence, it is crucial to prioritize the secure handling of biometric data. Organizations must adhere to industry best practices for encrypting, storing, and transferring biometric information securely. By following FIDO standards and implementing robust encryption techniques, the privacy and integrity of biometric data can be effectively maintained. And, it may be worth considering investing in solutions utilizing FIDO2.1 since it offers improved biometric management which may help future-proof your setups.

Conclusion

With the advancements of FIDO2 and FIDO2.1, the combination of security keys and biometrics reaches new heights of security and convenience. Leveraging tap-and-go security keys, CTAP2 services, and passwordless login on Azure deployments using Windows Hello, organizations can maximize security while providing a seamless user experience. By adopting these innovative solutions and prioritizing the secure handling of biometric data, businesses can protect valuable information and stay one step ahead of evolving cyber threats with stronger and more convenient authentication experiences.

Aerial shot of a laptop with a VeriMark Security Key with a trackball on the side.

Kensington offers a comprehensive range of biometric solutions that provide substantially higher assurance for security-conscience consumers and enterprise customers. If you are ready to secure your IT infrastructure but are unsure of the best way to protect your data, our team is here to help.

Learn more about Kensington’s Biometric Security Solutions