Windows Hello for Business Overview

Ganesh Chauhan, Technical Support Specialist, Microsoft Azure.

In Windows 10, Windows Hello for Business replaces passwords with powerful two-factor authentication on devices. This authentication comprises of a new type of user credential that is linked to a device and employs a biometric or PIN.

Windows Hello addresses the following password issues:

Strong passwords can be challenging to remember, and users frequently reuse passwords across several sites.

Server compromises can reveal symmetric network credentials (passwords).

Replay attacks on passwords are possible.

Phishing attempts might cause users to unwittingly divulge their credentials.

Users can use Windows Hello to authenticate to:

A Microsoft account is required.

An account in Active Directory.

Account in Microsoft Azure Active Directory (Azure AD).

Relying Party Services or Identity Provider Services that support Fast ID Online (FIDO) v2.0 authentication.

Following a two-step verification of the user during registration, Windows Hello is installed on the user’s device, and Windows prompts the user to select a gesture, which can be a biometric, such as a fingerprint, or a PIN. The user does the motion to confirm their identification. After that, Windows uses Windows Hello to authenticate users.

Biometric sign-in

Windows Hello offers dependable, fully integrated biometric identification via facial recognition or fingerprint matching. Windows Hello employs a combination of infrared (IR) cameras and algorithms to improve accuracy and prevent spoofing. Major hardware makers are delivering devices with built-in Windows Hello cameras. Fingerprint reader hardware can be used or added to devices that lack it. A simple biometric gesture unlocks users’ credentials on devices that support Windows Hello.

  • Facial recognition – This sort of biometric recognition employs special cameras that sense in infrared light, allowing them to distinguish between a photograph or scan and a living person. Several vendors are providing external cameras with this technology, and major laptop makers are also putting it into their products.
  • Fingerprint recognition – This sort of biometric recognition scans your fingerprint using a capacitive fingerprint sensor. Fingerprint readers have been available for Windows computers for many years, but the most recent generation of sensors is more dependable and less prone to error. Most existing fingerprint readers, whether external or built into laptops or USB keyboards, are compatible with Windows 10 and Windows 11.
  • Iris Recognition – This sort of biometric recognition scans your iris using cameras. The Microsoft HoloLens 2 is the first gadget to include an Iris scanner. The iris scanners on all HoloLens 2 devices are the same.

The difference between Windows Hello and Windows Hello for Business

  • Individuals can use their personal devices to create a PIN or biometric gesture for easy sign-in. This application of Windows Hello is exclusive to the device on which it is installed, however, it may employ a password hash depending on an individual’s account type. This is known as the Windows Hello convenience PIN, and it is not supported by asymmetric (public/private key) or certificate-based authentication.
  • When set by group policy or mobile device management (MDM), Windows Hello for Business always employs key-based or certificate-based authentication. Because of this behavior, it is more secure than the Windows Hello convenience PIN.


Benefits of Windows Hello

Identity theft and large-scale hacking are frequently in the news. Nobody wants to learn that their username and password have been compromised.

You may be wondering how a PIN might be more effective than a password in protecting a device. Passwords are shared secrets that are input on a device and relayed to the server via the network. Anyone, anywhere, can use an intercepted account name and password. Because the credentials are saved on the server, a server breach can expose them.

Windows Hello replaces passwords in Windows 10 and later. When an identity provider supports keys, the Windows Hello provisioning process generates a cryptographic key pair that is connected to the Trusted Platform Module (TPM) or in software, if the device has a TPM 2.0. Only the PIN or biometric gesture allows access to these keys and acquiring a signature to authenticate user possession of the private key. When the public portion of the public/private key pair is sent to an identity provider and associated with a user account, the two-step verification that occurs during Windows Hello registration establishes a trusted relationship between the identity provider and the user. Because of the combination of Windows Hello keys and gestures, when a user enters the gesture on the device, the identity provider knows it’s a validated identity. It then issues an authentication token to Windows, allowing it to access resources and services.

Windows Hello assists in the protection of user identities and credentials. Because the user does not provide a password (unless when provisioning), it helps to avoid phishing and brute force assaults. It also helps against server breaches because Windows Hello credentials are an asymmetric key pair, which helps avoid replay attacks when these keys are protected by TPMs.

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