May 16, 2024

Anonybit Team

Understanding The Distinctive Differences Between U2F vs FIDO2

Blog man implementing U2F Vs FIDO2

Are you interested in exploring new ways of enhancing your passwordless security? You might be wondering whether to choose U2F or FIDO2 for your authentication needs. In this blog, we’ll delve deep into the unique features of both systems to help you make an informed decision for your security needs. 

Why Your Organization Needs Strong Authentication

team working in an office - U2F Vs FIDO2

The universal way to strengthen authentication is by making it a multi-step process. Strong authentication uses more than just one credential.. Secondary authentication factors may include a one-time password (OTP) sent via text message or via an authenticator app, a silent authenticator like a trusted device or hardware token, or more favorably, user biometrics.

Addressing Password Vulnerabilities with Passwordless Authentication

According to the FIDO Alliance, stolen credentials  are the root cause of over 80% of data breaches. Hence securing passwords and finding strong means of authentication help prevent data breaches and other forms of cyber threats. Passwords are easily guessed and easily stolen, making them the leading cause of security breaches. This is common knowledge at this point. We also know that passwordless authentication seeks to remedy this problem by enabling users to access an application or IT system without using a password.

What you might not know is that by moving to passwordless authentication, your users can enjoy a better experience and you can save significantly on operational costs. 

What Is FIDO2?

man showing his thumb print - U2F Vs FIDO2

FIDO2 is an authentication method embracing the W3C Web Authentication specification and corresponding Client-to-Authenticator Protocols (CTAP) from the FIDO Alliance. This system supports passwordless, second-factor, and multi-factor user experiences leveraging embedded authenticators (like biometrics or PINs) or external authenticators (e.g., FIDO Security Keys, mobile devices, or wearables).

These standards were crafted with public key cryptography, fostering phishing-resistant authentication, simpler for consumers and easier for developers to implement and manage. FIDO2 enables users to authenticate into online services across mobile and desktop platforms using local device biometrics and roaming authenticators.

FIDO2 Specifications

W3C WebAuthn

This standardizes a web API that browsers and platforms integrate to facilitate FIDO Authentication.

CTAP2

This permits the use of external authenticators on FIDO2-enabled browsers and operating systems over USB, NFC, or BLE for passwordless, second-factor, or multi-factor authentication.

CTAP1

Previously known as FIDO U2F, CTAP1 enables the use of existing FIDO U2F devices for authentication on FIDO2-ready browsers and operating systems via USB, NFC, or BLE for a second-factor experience.

To learn more, visit FIDO Alliance

Enhancing Enterprise Security with Decentralized Biometrics

At Anonybit, we help companies prevent data breaches and account takeover fraud with our decentralized biometrics system design. With a decentralized biometrics solution, companies can enable passwordless login, wire verification, step-up authentication, and help desk authentication. We are on a mission to protect companies from data breaches, account takeover and synthetic identity fraud.

To achieve this goal, we offer security solutions such as:

  • Secure storage of biometrics and PII data
  • Support for the entire user lifecycle
  • 1:1 biometric authentication, including FIDO2 support, and 1:N biometric matching to prevent duplicates, synthetics and blocklisted identities 

Anonybit eliminates the tradeoffs between privacy and security. Prevent data breaches, enable strong authentication for eliminating account takeovers, and enhance the user experience across the enterprise using Anonybit.

Book a free demo today to learn more about our integrated identity management platform.

How Does FIDO2 Work?

how does it work - U2F Vs FIDO2

  1. During registration, the user’s client device creates a key pair—keeping the private key on the device and registering the public key with the online service.

    2. For subsequent authentication, the client device will authenticate the device owner by proving possession of the private key to the service by asking the user to sign a challenge (such as scanning a finger, entering a PIN, or pressing a button). At that point, he the FIDO authenticator is unlocked.

  2. The device selects the correct key and signs the service’s challenge based on the user’s account identifier.

    4. The service verifies the signed challenge with the stored public key and authenticates the transaction. 

What Is U2F?

rays of data - U2F Vs FIDO2

With the release of FIDO2, U2F was relabeled as CTAP1. This means that U2F has been merged into FIDO2. So what does this mean, exactly?

Strengthening Authentication with FIDO U2F

FIDO U2F allows a strong second factor for user login. For instance, the user logs in with a username and password as before. But the service can also prompt the user to present a FIDO security key at any time it chooses as a second factor. This strong second factor allows the service to simplify its passwords (e.g., 4–digit PIN) without compromising security.

Seamless FIDO U2F Usage Across Platforms

During registration and authentication, the user presents the second factor by simply pressing a button on a USB device or tapping over Near-Field Communication (NFC) or Bluetooth (BLE). The user can use their FIDO U2F device across all online services that support the protocol by leveraging built-in support in web browsers.

So, while it’s true that FIDO U2F capabilities have merged into CTAP1, FIDO U2F security keys will continue to work with services that support U2F authentication as well as those that support FIDO2 authentication.

CTAP1 vs. CTAP 2

person trying to understand U2F Vs FIDO2

CTAP1 is the new name for FIDO U2F under FIDO2. It enables the use of existing FIDO U2F devices, such as FIDO Security Keys, for authentication on FIDO2-enabled browsers and operating systems over USB, NFC, or BLE, offering a second-factor experience.

With the introduction of FIDO2, CTAP2 was established as the new standard specification alongside WebAuthn to define communication between FIDO2-enabled browsers and operating systems, and external authenticators for a passwordless, multi-factor authentication. An authenticator utilizing CTAP2 is referred to as a WebAuthn Authenticator or FIDO2 Authenticator. If a FIDO2 authenticator also supports CTAP1, it is backward compatible with U2F.

Empowering Enterprise Security with Decentralized Biometrics

At Anonybit, we help companies prevent data breaches and account takeover fraud with our decentralized biometrics system design. With Anonybit, companies can enable passwordless login, wire verification, step-up authentication, and help desk authentication. We are on a mission to protect companies from data breaches, account takeover and synthetic identity fraud.

To achieve this goal, we offer security solutions such as:

  • Secure storage of biometrics and PII data
  • Support for the entire user lifecycle
  • 1:1 biometric authentication, including FIDO support, and 1:N biometric matching to prevent duplicates, synthetics and blocklisted identities 

Anonybit eliminates the tradeoffs between privacy and security. Prevent data breaches, enable strong authentication for eliminating account takeovers, and enhance the user experience across the enterprise using Anonybit.

Book a free demo today to learn more about our integrated identity management platform.

U2F vs. FIDO2

FIDO2 is an advanced version of U2F that focuses on providing a robust, passwordless login experience. Both U2F and FIDO2 offer the same level of cryptographic security. However, FIDO2 introduces WebAuthn and CTAP, two protocols that enable cross-device and cross-platform passwordless authentication.

The main distinction between FIDO2 and U2F keys lies in their original purposes. U2F was initially designed as a secondary factor for password-based logins, while FIDO2 was created to support (single and multi-factor) passwordless authentication.

Deploying FIDO2 To Prevent Data Breaches

female engineer deploying - U2F Vs FIDO2

FIDO2 authentication has the potential to revolutionize the way we approach secure authentication. This standard delivers stronger security, greater convenience, more privacy, and increased scalability for users and organizations.

U2F vs FIDO2: A Comparison of Security Protocols

FIDO2 is the natural evolution of U2F, bringing improvements in security, ease of use, and scalability. The FIDO2 standard combines the W3C’s WebAuthn specification and the FIDO Alliance’s Client-to-Authenticator Protocol (CTAP). FIDO2 offers better scalability than U2F, allowing organizations to scale their authentication solutions without compromising security.

The Downside of FIDO2 Authentication

FIDO2 offers significant benefits in security and usability. However, deploying FIDO2 authentication can be resource-intensive and is more device-centric than user-centric, meaning that with FIDO authentication it is impossible to know who is authenticating; multiple people may share a device for example, or if an attacker gains access to a person’s FIDO credential, they can use their own biometrics to be validated to the service but no one would know it is not the authorized user. Alternatively, you can enjoy the same level of security Anonybit enables FIDO compliance but also maintains user biometrics in the Decentralized Biometrics Cloud to ensure a link between a user and their trusted device, and also enables account recovery in the event a user has a new device. 

Book A Free Demo To Learn More About Our Integrated Identity Management Platform

At Anonybit, we help companies prevent data breaches and account takeover fraud with our decentralized biometrics technology. With our decentralized biometrics framework, companies can enable passwordless login, wire verification, step-up authentication, help desk authentication and more. 

Comprehensive Security Solutions for Companies

We are on a mission to protect companies from data breaches, account takeover and synthetic identity on the rise, privacy regulations, digital transformation. To achieve this goal, we offer security solutions such as:

  • Secure storage of biometrics and PII data
  • Support for the entire user lifecycle
  • 1:1 authentication, including FIDO support, and 1:N matching for lookups and deduplication

Balancing Privacy and Security with Anonybit’s Integrated Platform

Anonybit eliminates the tradeoffs between privacy and security. Prevent data breaches, reduce account takeover fraud, and enhance the user experience across the enterprise using Anonybit. Book a free demo today to learn more about our integrated identity management platform.

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