Mozilla's BrowserID Seeks to Ease Authentication Woes

by Sam Dean - Jul. 15, 2011Comments (0)

Ever find yourself juggling so many passwords that you can't keep track of them, or compromising the security of your sign-ins by using the same log-in information across multiple sites? If so, you're not alone, and Mozilla is experimenting with a new way to attack these and other sign-in and authentication woes. The company has developed a new method for signing into web sites that leverages Verified Email Protocol, taking advantage of public-key cryptography and a user's email address for authentication.

According to a post from Mozilla:

"For a Web developer, creating a new application always involves an annoying hurdle: how do users sign in? An email address with a confirmation step is the classic method, but it demands a user’s time and requires the user to take an extra step and remember another password. Outsourcing login and identity management to large providers like Facebook, Twitter, or Google is an option, but these products also come with lock-in, reliability issues, and data privacy concerns."

In initially setting up BrowserID, you do have to supply an email address and a passwor. But these are only used once to create a cryptographic key to identify the user, after which the key and the email authenticate the user to sites. Mozilla has delivered a video showing how it works in action. 

Notably, Mozilla is proposing BrowserID as a standard that works within all browsers--not just Firefox. Could the company change the way we all authenticate to sites? Other efforts to use crypto keys for authentication, such as OpenID, didn't take off on a mass scale, but BrowserID does have Mozilla behind it. Perhaps BrowserID stands a chance of easing your password and authentication headaches.

Shailesh Patel uses OStatic to support Open Source, ask and answer questions and stay informed. What about you?


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