FIDO Alliance designs open, non-proprietary authentication protocol framework
Posted on 12 February 2013.
Internet companies, system integrators and security providers have formed the FIDO Alliance (Fast IDentity Online) to revolutionize online authentication with an industry supported standards-based open protocol.


FIDO Alliance founding member organizations Agnitio, Infineon Technologies, Lenovo, Nok Nok Labs, PayPal, and Validity are developing the specification and FIDO-compliant products.

The Internet requires users to confirm their identity to logon and access many online accounts and services. Current password authentication is weak due to reuse, malware and phishing, and leaves enterprises and end-users vulnerable to financial and identity theft.

FIDO’s standards-based approach automatically detects when a FIDO-enabled device is present, and offers users the option to replace passwords with authentication methods that are more secure and easier to use. The FIDO Alliance encourages and invites participation from all companies and organizations that want simpler, stronger authentication.

The FIDO standard will support a full range of technologies, including biometrics such as fingerprint scanners, voice and facial recognition, as well as existing authentication solutions and communications standards, such as Trusted Platform Modules (TPM), USB Security Tokens, Near Field Communication (NFC), One Time Passwords (OTP) and many other existing and future technology options.

The open protocol is designed to be extensible and to accommodate future innovation, as well as protect existing investments. The FIDO protocol allows the interaction of technologies within a single infrastructure, enabling security options to be tailored to the distinct needs of each user and organization. As more organizations join the FIDO Alliance, more use cases and technologies will become part of the solution.

“The Internet - especially with recent rapid mobile and cloud expansion – exposes users and enterprises, more than ever before, to fraud. It’s critical to know who you’re dealing with on the Internet. The FIDO Alliance is a private sector and industry-driven collaboration to combat the very real challenge of confirming every user’s identity online,” said Michael Barrett, FIDO Alliance president and PayPal CISO."By giving users choice in the way they authenticate and taking an open-based approach to standards, we can make universal online authentication a reality. We want every company, vendor, and organization that needs to verify user identity to join us in making online authentication easier and safer for users everywhere.”

Why FIDO? Why Now?

Though many authentication systems and point solutions existed before the FIDO Alliance, they have been proprietary, difficult and costly to manage, and/or insufficient to scale. The FIDO Alliance’s objective is to be all-inclusive, embracing both existing and new authentication methods and hardware with the FIDO open protocol. FIDO-compliant smartphones, tablets, PCs and laptops can replace password dependency and exposure of sensitive user information by automatically and transparently providing user credentials when they’re required.

50 billion internet-connected devices are predicted to be in the marketplace by 2020, according to Cisco Systems. The FIDO protocol approach inherently supports consumerization trends, by allowing end users any choice of authentication method. At the same time, FIDO shifts control to providers, who can make authentication user-transparent and limit the risk of fraud.

Any site will be able to effect stronger account and transaction security, and improve their users’ experience with more convenience, better privacy and fortified protection of persons and assets.

Today, users are often required to remember a selection of security questions, enter a unique ID with a main password, and potentially use a software or hardware token, as well. Most users have a handful of slightly varied passwords they use to access multiple sites and accounts. This cross-use of passwords poses serious risks if one account is compromised and user credentials are exposed to potential fraud across the range of a user’s accounts. Providers are invariably implicated when data is breached and personal information is exposed at a site or within an application. Repeated attempts to outline better security practices and change user behaviors haven’t succeeded.

The FIDO Alliance is committed to overcoming prevailing limitations by developing an authentication ecosystem with a standardized, global protocol and necessary interfaces. With users free to select any FIDO-compliant token type, even devices previously considered proprietary can be adapted for use, and new vendors with new protocol-compliant devices easily become part of the marketplace.

The FIDO Alliance and standards create the open, non-proprietary and flexible authentication protocol framework that lowers costs to deploy and improve returns on investment by using devices and systems already in the marketplace to authenticate users. Today, more and improved security options have become available and at better prices. Considering new market dynamics and the risk problem FIDO solves for users and providers, broad market adoption of secure authentication is now set up to succeed.





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