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Lenovo’s Yoga 910 laptop will get touchy with customer security thanks to FIDO

Kevin Parrish
Lenovo said that upcoming laptops sporting fingerprint scanners from Synaptics will support the FIDO specification to prevent users from entering passwords. FIDO is supported by a number of online services such as PayPal and Bank of America.

Lenovo recently announced that upcoming laptops will sport a biometric authentication system backed by FIDO authentication. This system will consist of a Synaptics Natural ID fingerprint sensor and the Intel Software Guard Extensions (SGX) provided by seventh-generation Intel Core processors. All of this will reduce fraud and increase security, enabling Lenovo customers to swipe their finger across the sensor instead of entering a password when using FIDO-enabled services.

FIDO authentication is the product of the FIDO Alliance, which happens to include Lenovo, Intel, and Synaptics. This alliance was formed in July 2012 with the mission to create a standard that reduces the need to insert a password when authenticating a customer. FIDO, short for Fast Identity Online, aims to be open, scalable, and interoperable.

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This alliance includes a large number of companies serving on its board including American Express, Bank of America, Google, MasterCard, Microsoft, PayPal, Qualcomm, Samsung, Visa, and more. The alliance also has many companies tied up on a sponsor level such as AMD, Chase, Dell, eBay, Fujitsu, Huawei, Intuit, LG Electronics, Mozilla, Netflix, and numerous others. The FIDO Alliance is a non-profit organization.

In a separate announcement made by the alliance, the first example of the collaboration is Lenovo’s upcoming Yoga 910 laptop. Service providers like PayPal will be able to provide FIDO-based password-free authentication to owners of this laptop. Once these customers register with PayPal or another FIDO-compliant website, all that will be needed is a simple swipe of a finger across the laptop’s sensor. This solution provides a multi-factor authentication based on a combination of hardware and a fingerprint pattern.

Brett McDowell, Executive Director of the FIDO Alliance, recently stated the world is facing a password crisis in that users need to keep up with numerous multi-character passwords across all of their services. And while two-step authentication helps to protect these services, it is a big hassle and will eventually fail as hacker methods evolve. Fingerprint authentication eliminates the need for passwords and the collaboration with Lenovo is a step in the right direction.

“FIDO authentication is already well established across the mobile ecosystem — there are now more than a billion Android and iOS devices in the market that service providers can use to deploy FIDO-enabled experiences to their customers,” McDowell said. “We’re seeing this grow every day. But the password problem is not limited to mobile devices; every single internet-connected device needs to have the ability to upgrade to simpler, stronger FIDO authentication.”

The Synaptics Natural ID fingerprint scanner used in the Lenovo laptops will feature enterprise-level security. It is backed by the company’s SentryPoint security suite that is capable of converting the biometric data into a proprietary template format so that hackers cannot recreate or reverse-engineer the data. This data is encrypted and digitally signed using 256-bit Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) and Transport Layer Security (TLS) technologies.

Lenovo revealed the Yoga 910 at the end of August, an ultra-thin convertible laptop measuring just 14.3mm thick. Features include up to a seventh-generation Intel Core processor, up to a 4K screen resolution, up to 16GB of system memory, and more. The Yoga 910 is expected to hit store shelves sometime in October.