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How do Passkeys Prevent Phishing?

How Passkeys Prevents Phishing Attacks
26 Mar 2024

In this modern and increasingly digitally focused operating environment we live in, security engineers are always on the prowl for new tools to mitigate organizational risks. A significant stride forward on this quest for unphishable credentials has been the shift towards the use of passkeys for passwordless (unphishable/phishing resistant) authentication! In this post, we’re going to take a quick look at how passkeys present an unphishable credential and has established a new benchmark in secure authentication. Let’s dive in.

Are Passkeys Phishing Resistant?

Simply stated, passkeys stand at the pinnacle of passwordless authentication. So much so that the FIDO Alliance dedicated their entire conference to passkeys last year! They’re a technology that not only bolsters security, but also streamlines the user experience. Two of the more critical elements in any useful new tech. Passkeys are deemed phishing-resistant due to their method of safeguarding credentials. They utilize a form of public key cryptography, which involves a public key and a private key. Through a bit of cryptographic wizardry, this setup enables verification that the user possesses the private key without exposing the private key itself. This process ensures that the authentication occurs with the private key never leaving the device, making it infeasible to steal user credentials. Very cool stuff.

Are Passkeys Similar to Smartcard Authentication?

Passkeys and smartcard authentication both utilize cryptographic keys for secure authentication; however, they differ significantly in their underlying mechanisms and dependency on external systems. Smartcard authentication is anchored in a Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) system, requiring certificates to authenticate the user’s identity. This necessitates the identity provider’s validation of these certificates’ legitimacy. Conversely, passkey authentication streamlines the process by allowing users to directly register each key with the identity provider, eliminating the need for a centralized certificate authority. Each approach offers distinct advantages and challenges, showcasing varied strategies in achieving secure authentication practices.

Passkeys Require Significantly Less Infrastructure than Smartcards

Passkeys represent a paradigm shift in authentication technologies, significantly reducing the reliance on extensive infrastructure compared to smartcards. The streamlined nature of passkeys is rooted in their ability to facilitate direct interactions between the user’s device and the identity provider, thereby eliminating the need for a complex Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) system. Unlike smartcards, which require the issuance, management, and verification of certificates through a PKI, passkeys simplify the authentication process by leveraging a more straightforward, registration-based approach. This reduction in infrastructural requirements not only enhances the agility and scalability of authentication systems but also lowers the barriers to implementation and maintenance. By removing or going around the traditional hurdles associated with certificate management, passkeys offer a more efficient and user-friendly method of securing user identities, demonstrating a significant advancement in quest for unphishable credentials.

Deciding How to Go Passwordless: Passkeys or Smartcards?

As organizations confront increasingly sophisticated cyber threats, adopting passkeys for passwordless authentication stands out as a prudent and efficient strategy to protect your organization’s digital assets and sustain user confidence. Although passkeys are an excellent method of authentication, their support in legacy systems and certain platforms may still be emerging. The optimal approach to enhancing your organization’s security posture could involve integrating passkeys with existing authentication methods, such as smartcards, to achieve comprehensive authentication coverage. If you’re looking for a tool to accommodate all different kinds of passwordless authentication methods, you need to learn more about EZCMS, the first any only passwordless onboarding tool to support all 3 major forms of passwordless authentication! Take the guesswork out of going passwordless and scale security throughout your organization.

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If you’re contemplating the implementation of passkeys and unphishable credentials within your organization and seek guidance, consider scheduling a FREE consultation with one of our identity security experts. We’re here to provide a personalized analysis of your situation and explore how passkeys can fortify your cybersecurity framework. In the meantime, please take a look at our documentation or YouTube channel for more insight onto how going passwordless with Keytos can help ensure the security of your organization!

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