Passkeys Explained: How They Ditch Passwords for Good

Preeti Anand
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Are you fed up with having to remember complicated passwords and living in constant fear of data breaches? Large tech firms have teamed up to offer passkeys, a possible remedy. This article deeply explores the world of passkeys, describing their operation, how to activate them on your devices, and the reasons they could hold the key to a password-free future. Fasten your seatbelt and prepare for a new era of safe and practical login experiences!


As evidence of how weak most people's account passwords are, the most popular passwords are still "password" and "123456," despite years of efforts to raise awareness of the need for stronger passwords. This authentication mechanism could be doing better. Therefore, big tech has come up with a fix: passkeys. This article explains passkeys and how to enable them and discusses how passkeys may someday replace passwords.

Passkeys: What are they?

Passkeys are one security mechanism that eliminates the need for passwords to access internet accounts. They are based on the WebAuthn or WebAuthentication standard, strengthening account security through public-key cryptography. Users can enter a passkey—a one-time code provided to their phone or email—instead of typing a password. In addition to saving themselves the trouble of remembering and typing complicated passwords, users can safeguard their accounts against password guessing or theft.


Passkeys can also be used with PINs or biometrics to improve security. This multi-layered strategy ensures that the other layers will still offer protection even in a compromise of one security measure. Passkeys are growing in popularity as internet services try to provide customers with a more straightforward and more secure way to sign in. They simplify the login procedure and offer a user-friendly substitute for conventional passwords, lowering the possibility of password-related security breaches. To improve user convenience and security, online platforms can combine passkeys with PINs or biometric identification, such as fingerprint or facial recognition, to give customers a seamless and reliable security experience.

 How are passkeys operated?

Public-key cryptography, a safe technique that uses a pair of linked keys—a public key and a private key—is how passkeys work. This technology permits safe authentication while guaranteeing the protection of sensitive data. Your device's private key is exclusive and kept safe there. It is never shared. The public key, on the other hand, is kept on the web server and is freely distributable without threatening security. When you try to log in, your device signs a server challenge with the private key. The server then uses the public key to validate this signature.


This procedure offers a reliable and safe way to log in to internet services by guaranteeing that only the device with the correct private key may authenticate. Passkeys provide a more straightforward and secure password authentication solution by removing the need to memorize complicated passwords and lowering the possibility of password theft.

When you log in, your device receives a challenge from the server, and it uses the private key to solve it and reply. The server then uses the public key to validate the answer, negating the need to know the secret key. Passkeys are more secure than passwords since no secrets are shared or kept on the server in this manner.

What is required to begin using passkeys?


The good news is that major IT companies like Microsoft, Google, and Apple have collaborated to enable passkeys to be used on most of the newest phones and PCs. These businesses have created passkeys by utilizing W3C and FIDO Alliance standards. You can use passkeys with TouchID or FaceID instead of a master password if you have an iPhone running iOS 16+, an iPad running iPadOS 16+, or a Mac running macOS Ventura.

You can utilize passkeys with Google Password Manager, a service that saves and syncs your passwords across your devices if you have an Android phone or tablet running Android 9+. Passkeys can be used with Windows Hello if you own a Windows computer. Passkeys are functional on Windows 10 and 11 as long as your Microsoft account is logged in.

Regarding your online browser, passkeys are compatible with Chrome, Edge, Safari, and Firefox since they are all compatible with this new technology. All you have to do is confirm that they have installed the most recent version.


How are passkeys made and used?

You must have an account with a provider—such as Microsoft, Google, or Apple—that accepts passkeys to generate one. After that, you must activate the passkey feature by logging in to the app or website that accepts them. After completing that, you will receive a passkey exclusive to your device and account.

First, you must activate the iCloud Keychain to create passkeys on iOS and macOS. Then, you can use a passkey rather than a password when creating a new account on a website or app that supports it. You can use a QR code, Touch ID, or Face ID to log in using a passkey.


On Android devices, you can click "Create a passkey" after visiting, logging into your Google account, and creating a passkey. Follow the instructions to add the device as a passkey and confirm your identification. These procedures can be repeated on different devices.

 Do passkeys invalidate the password?

The solution is a challenge. Although passkeys are simpler to use and more secure than passwords, there are still challenges with uptake and compatibility. Only some websites or services support passkeys now; only some users know about or want to use them. However, given how hard passkeys are being pushed by businesses like Google, Apple, and Microsoft, it might not be a huge surprise if passwords entirely disappear soon.