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How Does FIDO2 Prevent Phishing?

How FIDO2 Prevents Phishing Attacks
26 Dec 2023

In this wild world of cybersecurity that we find ourselves in, organizations constantly seek robust solutions to combat threats like phishing. A breakthrough in this anti-phishing agenda is the adoption of FIDO2 keys for passwordless (unphishable) authentication! In this blog, we will explore how FIDO2 keys offer an unphishable credential, setting a new standard in secure authentication.

Why is FIDO2 Phishing Resistant?

FIDO2 keys are at the forefront of passwordless authentication, a technology that enhances security while simultaneously simplifying the user experience. FIDO2 keys are considered phishing-resistant because of how they protect the credentials. FIDO2 uses asymmetric cryptographic keys that consists of a public key and a private key that, through some mathematical magic, allows you to validate the user owns the private key without ever seeing the private key; this allows FIDO2 authentication to happen with the private key never leaving the FIDO2 key, making it impossible to steal the user credentials.

Is FIDO2 the Same as Smartcard Authentication?

While FIDO2 keys and smartcard authentication use the same cryptographic keys for authentication, they are different in the sense that smartcard authentication depends on a PKI to create the certificate and having your identity provider verify that is a valid certificate, while FIDO2 requires you to register each key with the identity provider. Each has their advantages and disadvantages.

FIDO2 Has Significantly Less Infrastructure than Smartcard Authentication

FIDO2 was created because, well, smartcards are hard. While that might sound like schoolyard slander, it’s true! With smartcards you used to need to deploy a metric ton of infrastructure to get them up and running – of course, since FIDO2 is still not supported everywhere, if you want to use smartcards, now with EZCMS, EZCA, and Entra ID, you can implement smartcards without needing to deploy all that infrastructure.

Smartcard infrastructure before and after using EZCA and EZCMS

FIDO2 Simplifies the Authentication Process

The goal of FIDO2 is to simplify the authentication process while maintaining high security standards. By reducing the need for additional hardware and software components, FIDO2 makes secure authentication much more straightforward and user-friendly.

Final Thoughts on FIDO2 Keys Being Unphishable

FIDO2 keys represent a significant leap forward in the fight against phishing. By providing a secure and direct link to the user’s device and reducing the complexity of the authentication process, FIDO2 offers a solution that is both unphishable and user-friendly, a rare yet incredibly welcome feat. As organizations continue to face sophisticated cyber threats, adopting FIDO2 keys for passwordless authentication emerges as a wise and effective strategy to safeguard your organization’s digital assets and maintain user trust.

While FIDO2 is a great authentication method, it is still not supported in legacy systems and, for some reason, in iOS devices. The best way to adopt FIDO2 keys and bolster your organization’s security posture, though, is to use FIDO2 + smartcard authentication in the same key, which gives you the ultimate authentication experience.

If you’re reading this and still on the fence about whether you should implement FIDO2 keys and unphishable credentials in your organization, feel free to schedule a FREE consultation with one of our ex-Microsoft identity experts for an analysis of your unique situation and how FIDO2 keys can help!

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