Browsers to Support Fingerprint Logins to Websites

John Lister's picture

Google's Chrome browser may soon support biometric logins to websites such as fingerprints. It follows on from Firefox becoming the first major browser to support biometric logins just a few weeks ago.

Both browsers are supporting "WebAuthn," a web standard for authenticating logins without passwords. While it's a big step, it's only half the journey as the standard also has to be supported by the websites in question. (Source:

The standard has been jointly developed by two key groups. The World Wide Web Consortium is the main body that develops standards for websites. These already include HTML (the language used to write web pages), CSS (the system used to give a website a consistent look and feel) and CGI (the system used to create unique web pages for a particular visit - for example, a page detailing a particular flight booking or online shopping order).

USB Stick Could Act Like Key

The other group working on WebAuthn is the FIDO (Fast IDentity Online) Alliance, which involves major financial and technology companies and deals with the issue of online identity. (Source:

WebAuthn isn't so much about the actual technology used, but more about a consistent method to make sure websites and login methods work together. It doesn't solely cover biometric options such as fingerprints or eye scanning, but also physical options such as putting a dedicated USB drive into a computer and effectively using is as a key to unlock access to an account. At the moment, only physical devices are covered by the standards, but support for biometric logins is on the way.

The big change at the moment is that such technologies are usually used either as a backup or as a second layer of security. With WebAuthn, these can become the primary or sole log-in tool.

Major Websites Not Yet On Board

The idea is that you use the identification method (whether that be a physical device or a biometric input) at the time you set up an account. In the future you'll then be able to login with the same method.

Having Chrome and Firefox on board puts the technology in the hands of more than 70 percent of web users. That greatly increases the chances that major websites like Gmail and Facebook will decide it's worth adding WebAuthn support.

What's Your Opinion?

Would you use biometric logins in place of passwords if you had the options? What about physical 'keys'? Would your attitude change if most major websites support the technology?

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Dennis Faas's picture

I don't know if this has anything to do with the last update to Roboform, but my fingerprint no longer works no matter how many times I swipe. I confirmed this with another user who has the same issue. Compared to Webathn, Roboform uses a master password or you can swipe your fingerprint to gain access to your passwords which then fill forms on websites.

At any rate I would be very much like to see this technology to get rid of passwords altogether, however, a major problem I've had (even with Roboform) is that sometimes it takes 10 or more tries to get the fingerprint reader to work properly. I can see that being a major issue for users relying on their fingerprint device in order to gain access to websites and data, so there will have to be a fallback method if the fingerprint doesn't work.

dan_2160's picture

The difficulties people are encountering are, frustratingly, simply typical of new adaptations of technology. I've seen it time and again over the past 30+ years using PCs. It can drive early adopters crazy, but when you think about it, it's no surprise.

It's not just in technology. In just about any field, the first attempts at something new are rough around the edges. It's just impossible to anticipate every contingency and time is necessary for the technology to mature.