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What is Passwordless Authentication?

True passwordless authentication establishes a strong assurance of a user's identity without relying on passwords, allowing users to authenticate using biometrics, security keys or a mobile device. It provides secure access for every enterprise use case (hybrid, cloud, on-premises and legacy apps).

Through technology partnerships, Duo is innovating toward a true passwordless future that balances usability with stronger authentication. Passwordless gives users a frictionless login experience, while reducing administrative burden and overall security risks for the enterprise.

The Problem With Passwords

Passwords create higher friction for users, slow down business productivity, and are inherently a weak form of user authentication.

Costly and Burdensome to Manage

  • 20-50% of all IT help desk tickets each year are for password resets (Security Boulevard)
  • Each year, U.S.-based enterprises allocate over $1 million to password-related support costs (Forrester

Poor User Experiences

Easily Compromised

  • 81% of breaches involve stolen or weak credentials, while 29% of all breaches involved the use of stolen credentials (Verizon DBIR)

Business Benefits of Passwordless

Passwordless authentication provides a single, strong assurance of users' identities to achieve user trust. As a result, enterprises can realize the following benefits:

Better User Experience

A reduction in user frustration and an increase in user productivity.

Reduced IT Time and Costs

A reduction of the administrative burden of password-related help desk tickets and password resets.

Stronger Security Posture

The elimination of threats and vulnerabilities related to passwords (phishing, stolen or weak passwords, password reuse, brute-force attacks, etc.).

The Challenge: A Nascent Market

Today, many passwordless vendors can only solve for one use case, providing less passwords or a password-lite experience for users - but they do not solve the inherent weakness of passwords. Modern enterprises cannot cover all of their access use cases today with a single passwordless solution. There are additional business challenges to consider:

Complex and Hybrid IT Environments

Must support both legacy and cloud apps with a consistent, simplified user experience.

Administrative and Management Costs

Passwordless tech may require costly security hardware and device management.

Compliance Regulations

Companies tie their policies to passwords in order to meet compliance, making it hard to switch to stronger authentication.

The Solution: Path to Passwordless

Pairing passwordless technology with strong MFA is a practical way to provide the broadest security coverage today. With MFA in place, you can reduce your reliance on passwords and modify password policies to require less frequent resets, alleviating help desk burden and reducing user frustration. We recommend taking a phased approach to securing access for the workforce, with each step taking you closer to a fully passwordless future:

Reduce Password Reliance: Strong Authentication for All Apps

Reduce your reliance on passwords and lower the risk of credential theft by protecting cloud and on-premises applications with Duo’s multi-factor authentication (MFA)

Achieve Less Passwords: Minimize Passwords for Cloud Apps

Achieve less passwords by using Duo’s WebAuthn and single sign-on (SSO). Ideally, users can log in using a single biometric authenticator (or security key) to access any web-based application.

Achieve True Passwordless: Eliminate Passwords for Legacy and Cloud Apps

Achieve true passwordless for all use cases, including passwordless for both legacy tools using older protocols and cloud-based applications.

Get Started With Duo Today

Supporting passwordless requires key technologies to address hybrid environments. Start down the path to true passwordless today with Duo’s user and device trust designed to provide secure access for every enterprise use case.

Passwordless Enables Zero Trust

With identity as the new perimeter, enterprises need to secure the workforce; both users and their devices accessing applications. Passwordless authentication is a key building block to enabling zero-trust security for the workforce. A combination of user and device trust, driven by adaptive policies ensures access to applications and data is secured.

Duo Partnering for a Passwordless Future

Duo is partnering with technology platform providers and industry organizations to bring a fully passwordless future to a usable state for the enterprise.

Passwordless requires technology platforms like Windows Hello, Touch ID, Face ID and fingerprint APIs to work in tandem with hardware-based biometric authenticators, supported by open standards like WebAuthn and CTAP2.

Duo is committed to working with them to solve passwordless challenges by:
  • Partnering with Microsoft as the first software partner for Windows Hello for Business to establish trust for biometric authentication for devices and web services
  • Supporting WebAuthn security keys for major browsers
  • Partnering with the WebAuthn Working Group and W3C to advocate for enterprise features
  • Providing developer tools with WebAuthn.io & WebAuthn.guide

Additional Resources

Learn more about what Duo is doing to pave the way for a passwordless future by working to make passwordless technology and standards open, accessible and easy for the broader community: