Ledger Hardware Wallet Integrates Biometric Authentication

The next generation of Ledger, a smartchip-based Bitcoin hardware wallet similar to Trezor, will be compatible with the authentication features of Fido Alliance – namely external dongles and fingerprint readers.

Ledger says they will employ Fido Alliance‘s Second Factor (U2F) and Passwordless (UAF) authentication types.

Of U2F authentication, a Ledger spokesperson tells Medium:

“[It] uses Elliptic Curve Cryptography (on Bitcoin neighbor curve secp256r1) to replace the typical OATH-TOTP validation by a cryptographic challenge performed by a hardware token [dongle]. It is designed to prevent against phishing […] and protects user privacy by mandating a different key generation per website account.”

The UAF authentication, on the other hand, is where biometric (read: fingerprint readers) come into play. The Ledger spokesperson further explains:

“UAF recognizes the user (with a PIN, biometrics or other methods) and uses Public Key Cryptography (and natively supports the Bitcoin curve secp256k1) to authenticate with the remote service.”

These two types of authentications are following a wider push toward more secure and even passwordless logins to Web services in general. The public-key cryptography employed by Bitcoin has created an environment in which private keys – not emails, usernames, or passwords – may become the preferred method for online authentication.

Ledger has not announced an exact release date for their coming wallet iteration. Fido Alliance will make a presentation in London in fall 2015 on their biometric standards and applications.



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