Apple, which has long prided itself on its devices’ security, has joined the Fido Alliance as a board member. As for why that matters, it’s great news if you hate using passwords or password managers.
The Fido Alliance is an open industry group that in its words, has a mission to create “authentication standards to help reduce the world’s over-reliance on passwords.” If you’re not familiar with the group itself, you might have heard of one of its three sets of authentication protocols: Fido Universal Second Factor (FIDO U2F), FIDO Universal Authentication Framework (FIDO UAF) and FIDO2. And even if you haven’t, Fido’s board members include some well-known industry giants such as Amazon, ARM, American Express, Facebook, Google, Intel, Lenovo, Microsoft, PayPal, Samsung, Visa, Mastercard, and now, Apple.
The news was initially spotted last week by French website MacG, which cited a now-deleted tweet showing a photo from a Fido conference presentation with the Apple logo and text saying ‘New Board Member.’ However, the tweets were swiftly deleted until today, when Fido officially updated its webpage to include Apple.
So what does this ultimately mean? Well, part of Fido’s work is seeking ways to replace passwords altogether. That includes creating standards for tech like biometric authentication as well as physical security keys. Apple already implements some of these technologies—think Face ID, or using an Apple Watch to unlock a compatible MacBook. Apple also sometimes ask users to verify their identity on a laptop by granting permission on their iPhone. Ideally, this sort of two-factor authentication would be more widespread outside of Apple’s own walled garden. Joining the Fido Alliance could be a step toward making this a reality across platforms, not just those married to the Apple ecosystem.
This is perhaps a glimpse into what Apple has in mind regarding security going forward. The company has been working on integrating U2F for a while now and included support for FIDO2 security keys in iOS 13.3 and Safari 13. That said, we’ll definitely have to wait a bit before kissing passwords goodbye forever.