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The Future of Online Security

It has been hard to avoid the plethora of emails and pressure from companies to review their privacy policy over the last few weeks. With the new GDPR laws coming into effect on 25th May, all businesses regardless of size, have been updating their privacy policies and terms and conditions in line with the new GDPR laws. Although considered an inconvenience by many, GDPR is designed to protect your data. Many of the rules under the GDPR umbrella stipulate how companies hold your data in order to prevent breaches.

So how can you protect your own security online?

Traditionally, you would secure your online accounts with a password. Everyone has felt the pain of trying to include enough uppercase, lowercase or ‘special characters’, only to be told that your password is too weak or not secure enough.

At the end of it all, a password is still a password however ‘strong’ it may be. If someone gets hold of it then they will have access to your account. If you’re the type of person who uses the same password for many different services, this could spell disaster.

So what can we do about it?

Well, in the latest version of Google Chrome, version 67, a new standard of password is available called WebAuthn.

WebAuthn is a browser-based API that allows website developers to securely log a user in using an ‘External Authenticator’. This could be anything from a fingerprint sensor, a USB dongle, a retina scanner or a mobile phone.

Google has supported this sort of authentication with its own services for some time. Those lucky enough to own an Android smart watch are able to log into their Google Account without entering a password. Instead, Google will send a message to their smart watch or phone and the user simply has to tap to accept.

Some banks and large corporations have also been using a similar technology for some time. In order to log into secure accounts or VPNs you must have your personal USB dongle plugged into the computer you are logging in from. Unfortunately, this has always required the installation of additional software in order for it to work.

WebAuthn is currently supported by Chrome 67 and Firefox 60 but Safari and Microsoft Edge will be sure to follow suit in good time.

With the introduction of WebAuthn, you will start to see many websites rolling out newer, more convenient, and more secure methods of logging in. When this day comes, you will finally be able to stop having to remember hundreds of passwords which look like the inside of an Egyptian pyramid.