Web Authentication in Firefox for Android
Published 2019-08-05 originally at Mozilla's Security Blog and cross-posted here.
Firefox for Android (Fennec) now supports the Web Authentication API as of version 68. WebAuthn blends public-key cryptography into web application logins, and is our best technical response to credential phishing. Applications leveraging WebAuthn gain new second factor and “passwordless” biometric authentication capabilities. Now, Firefox for Android matches our support for Passwordless Logins using Windows Hello. As a result, even while mobile you can still obtain the highest level of anti-phishing account security.
Firefox for Android uses your device’s native capabilities: On certain devices, you can use built-in biometrics scanners for authentication. You can also use security keys that support Bluetooth, NFC, or can be plugged into the phone’s USB port.
The attached video shows the usage of Web Authentication with a built-in fingerprint scanner: The demo website enrolls a new security key in the account using the fingerprint, and then subsequently logs in using that fingerprint (and without requiring a password).
Adoption of Web Authentication by major websites is underway: Google, Microsoft, and Dropbox all support WebAuthn via their respective Account Security Settings’ “2-Step Verification” menu.
A few notes
- For Microsoft Accounts, you’ll need to be running the latest release of Windows 10. Look under the heading “Windows Hello and security keys”.
- For Google Accounts, due to Google limitations you must enroll your security keys via a desktop browser, and then you can use them with Firefox for Android. Look for the heading “Security keys” and choose a USB or NFC key.
- Additionally you can try Web Authentication out at a variety of demo sites: https://webauthn.org/, https://webauthn.io/, https://webauthn.me/, https://webauthndemo.appspot.com/, or learn more about it on MDN.
Currently Firefox Preview for Android does not support Web Authentication. As Preview matures, Web Authentication will be joining its feature set.