In its latest Safari preview, Apple has added USB security key support. This enables Safari users to authenticate their identity with the help of USB sticks. This new way of logging in to websites on internet provides better protection to them than passwords containing numerals and alphabets. This initiative from Apple Safari tech support comes after Google, Mozilla, and Firefox browsers.
Increased instances of data breach behind this initiative
This initiative from Apple was long overdue to answer the questions related to inherent flaws in standard text based passwords. Passwords chosen by people themselves have many weaknesses but they continue to be used to get access to sensitive websites. Often people make use of the same password for many different sites. In such a scenario, if someone steals a password, it can have bad consequences for many different websites. There is no dearth of people who utilize passwords that can be easily cracked by hackers. They also make very minor changes to their passwords when requested by these websites.
Stronger, more secure authentication procedure
Massive data breaches have created problems for authorities around the country. This is why it has become very important for browsers to use security keys to authenticate the identity of the user. Apple Safari Technology preview 71 comes packed with a new technology called WebAuthn. Web Authentication is a technology that enables websites to authenticate the identity of the user with the help of a USB stick. User needs to insert a hardware security key into the USB port of his device that is then authenticated by the website to give access to him.
By downloading technology preview 71 offered by Apple Safari support, users of Safari can now log on to their chosen websites by using a USB stick rather than typing their text based passwords. Security of users gets a big boost with the help of this WebAuthn technology and hackers will not be able to get access to websites even after they steal or crack the text based password of an individual. These hardware based security keys are an attempt by Apple to push towards a more secure authentication procedure called multifactor authentication. It uses hardware keys in addition to the text based passwords created by the users. This type of authentication of the identity of an individual makes it harder for anyone to get access to a website even if he has got access to the keyword used by him.
Safari technology preview 71 is only a test version. So it is not clear whether this proposed authentication process will actually be integrated in the main version introduced by Safari in future. Another experimental support introduced by this preview is called dark mode. This feature is for the use of web developers who want to create websites with a dark background and a lighter text over them.
Using hardware security keys no doubt provides higher degree of security to people. However, they also need to safely store this key so that they do not lose it.