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Apple Joins FIDO Alliance

Apple has joined the FIDO Alliance, an organization that aims to help reduce the use of passwords by providing free and open authentication standards.

Nok Nok Labs, inventor of the FIDO specifications and a founding member of the FIDO Alliance, announced on Wednesday that Apple has not only become a member, but that it has also taken a leadership role as a board member.

Amazon, Arm, Facebook, Google, Intel, Microsoft, Mastercard, PayPal, Qualcomm, Samsung Visa and VMware are also members of the FIDO Alliance.

“With Apple on the board, we now have all major platform providers working together in the FIDO Alliance at the board level. This industrywide participation is crucial to help propel widespread adoption and use of FIDO Authentication. This also sends a powerful message about the future of FIDO as the standard for strong authentication,” Andrew Shikiar, executive director and CMO of the FIDO Alliance, told SecurityWeek.

Passwords are the root cause of many breaches and managing them can be problematic, especially for enterprises. The FIDO Alliance hopes to address the problems associated with passwords by providing a set of standards for simple yet strong authentication.

The specifications promoted by the organization are FIDO Universal Second Factor (FIDO U2F), FIDO Universal Authentication Framework (FIDO UAF), and FIDO2, which is comprised of W3C Web Authentication (WebAuthn) and Client-to-Authenticator Protocols (CTAP).

Products that support these methods can allow their users to authenticate using biometrics (e.g. fingerprint scanner, iris scanner, and facial recognition) or a wearable authenticator (e.g. security keys, wearables, mobile phones).

Some Apple devices are equipped with the Touch ID fingerprint recognition feature and the Face ID facial recognition system. The tech giant has also added support for FIDO2-based security keys to its macOS and iOS operating systems.

“While new to the Alliance board, Apple has already been active in its support for FIDO through the enablement of FIDO Authentication in its operating systems. Today, FIDO logins on supporting websites are available in Apple’s Safari browser on MacOS, iOS and iPadOS. Apple also contributed to the development of WebAuthn, a key component of the FIDO2 standard, as part of the W3C WebAuthn Working Group,” Shikiar said. “We’re excited that Apple has decided to take the next step and join other leading organizations on our board as we collectively work towards meeting our mission to make logins easier and more secure for users around the world.”

*updated with comments from Andrew Shikiar

Related: Ready or Not, Here Comes FIDO: How to Prepare for Success

Related: New Authentication Standard Coming to Major Web Browsers

Related: Support for FIDO2 Passwordless Authentication Added to Android

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Eduard Kovacs (@EduardKovacs) is a contributing editor at SecurityWeek. He worked as a high school IT teacher for two years before starting a career in journalism as Softpedia’s security news reporter. Eduard holds a bachelor’s degree in industrial informatics and a master’s degree in computer techniques applied in electrical engineering.