lou's post here resonated with me and my attempts to get my family to use better security practices (i.e. 2FA, password managers). They're very difficult to wrap your brain around to the average user, and they have the ability to create catastrophic failstates if used incorrectly. Furthermore, even when they work well, they can still be kind of clunky (different sites use different methods; writing down/printing recovery codes feels like a dated solution alongside other tech-forward things).
Also, outside of this, password requirements are their own bugbear, with nearly every site having different criteria. Even as someone who uses a password generator and manager on the regular, I still have to adjust the password creation criteria to do things like fit character limits or specific requirements (and don't get me started on forced resets!). I totally get why so many people reuse passwords, or have a default one that they sort of modify as needed to fit a given site's needs.
From my (admittedly super limited) perspective of a lay user: usernames, passwords, 2FA and the whole stack seems like something that's suffering under the technical debt of decades' worth of web development and networking. It seems like things have inched forward and many new layers have been added to address emergent problems, but the whole system gives a sort of barely-held-together-by-tape feel.
What if we could use what we know now and redesign things from the ground up? If we could start fresh, today, what might username authentication look like beyond the usual username/password combos that we're so used to?
I'm interested in any ideas -- not necessarily just feasible ones.
Also, despite me being the one prompting this thread, don't feel the need to simplify technical explanations or anything. I'm mostly interested in lurking and seeing what all you very smart techy people have to say about the topic. :)