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How Will Passkeys Reduce Phishing Attacks

January 5, 2023

Phishing attacks are a common method used by cybercriminals to trick individuals into revealing sensitive information, such as login credentials or financial information. These attacks can be difficult to detect, as they often involve fraudulent websites or emails that appear legitimate. One way to reduce the risk of falling victim to a phishing attack is to use passkeys, which are a form of cryptography that uses a public and a private key.

Passkeys work by requiring users to provide an additional layer of security when logging in to their accounts. This typically involves entering a unique code or using a device, such as a smartphone, to confirm their identity. The code, or private key, acts as a "passkey" that must be presented and match th key pair for the service to which the user is trying to login.

There are several benefits to using passkeys in the context of phishing attacks. First and foremost, they provide an extra level of security by requiring users to provide a passkey that is likely tied to a physical device. This is a lot like two-factor authentication with a physical device like a Yuibikey. This model makes it much more difficult for cybercriminals to gain access to sensitive information, as they would need to obtain or fully compromise the physical device in order to successfully log in.

Second, passkeys can reduce the risk of phishing attacks by making it more difficult for cybercriminals to impersonate legitimate websites or emails. This is the most interesting application of passkeys in the context of phishing attacks. In a typical phishing attack, a cybercriminal creates a fraudulent website that appears to be a legitimate login page. Victims go this fake page and enter their login credentials, giving attackers the metaphorical keys to the castle.

With passkeys, the two keys (the user key and the key for the website or web app) have to match. And each website and application has its own unique pair of passkeys. This means the website can’t just look real like the fraudulent website example above. The website above still had a fake URL and this will not match the user key on the user device. The user will be unable to login and will not give attackers any sensitive information. This makes it much harder for cybercriminals to successfully carry out a phishing attack and makes it so end users do not have worry about reading URLs.

Finally, passkeys can help to reduce the impact of a phishing attack if one does occur. If a cybercriminal is able to obtain a user's login credentials, they will still be unable to access user accounts without all of a users passkeys. This can help to limit the damage caused by a successful phishing attack, as the cybercriminal will be unable to gain access to sensitive information or carry out any unauthorized actions.

Passkeys are an important tool for reducing the risk of phishing attacks. We are excited to see them start rolling out. By providing an additional layer of security and making it more difficult for cybercriminals to impersonate legitimate websites or emails, passkeys can help to protect individuals and organizations from these types of attacks.

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