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What would be a good way to authenticate a user to authenticate to websites and applications over a smart phone? By good, I mean that it is both secure, and user-friendly. Passwords don't seem to be the best fit because a password needs to be long to be secure, but it is hard to type a long password on a smart phone. Some thoughts I have begun to think about are biometric measures (e.g. possibly facial recognition), and / or a token. I asked a very similar question of authenticating a user to the smartphone itself here: What is a good way to authenticate a user to a smart phone?

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    Same answer from me, SSO. I'm not an SSO salesperson, I promise! – AlexH Feb 12 '15 at 14:40
  • What are you authenticating? I mean what is the ID you are using? In many mobile apps, by using their phone number as the ID, it is easy to authenticate their ID. – Aron Feb 12 '15 at 16:08
  • @Aron I would consider authenticating by any ID that would be easy and secure. A phone number sounds like a great idea! – Jonathan Feb 18 '15 at 21:15
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Consider SQRL. It's a quite new, free, token based authentication system, using a client application. To authenticate, the client signs a cryptographic challenge with a per-domain private key. Thus it offers per-domain pseudonymity.

From Wikipedia:

SQRL or Secure, Quick, Reliable Login (pronounced "squirrel") is a draft open standard for secure website login and authentication.

Some more resources:

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Consider FIDO as a standard that's being backed by a lot of large organizations, and has already seen deployments.

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Authenticate using SMS is pretty typical in mobile apps.

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  • Costly and not NSA-proof. – user42178 Feb 19 '15 at 17:39
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    @AndréDaniel cheap and convenient do not make for a system that is NSA proof. – Aron Feb 19 '15 at 17:40

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