Why haven't asymmetrical keys replaced passwords yet?

imagined security scheme:
1.Generate public/private key pair
2. share public key when creating account with whomever.
3. when logging in, account will send you random string
4. your browser will encrypt string with private key
5. account will decrypt string with your public key, if it is the same string they sent, you are authenticated.

- The biggest problem I see with this is not wanting to use unsecure computers because you would have to share your private key with that computer to log on, but the same could be said for passwords.

- convincing people to carry around a usb stick containing keys seems much easier than convincing them to choose and track dozens of hard to guess/bruteforcable passwords.

@zacharius The two issues I see with this is that 1) people are totally going to lose their USBs -- so then they're screwed. 2) USB sticks are a super easy to inject malicious code into a new computer. I've heard of companies with software that auto-formats USB devices upon being plugged into the computer.

How are you seeing this model as more secure than a password manager?


@sgparent I agree that portable drives are a problem and the best practice would be to only store keys on personal devices. This would be a limitation in that you wouldn't be able to log on through any device, but most people carry computers around with them everywhere so I don't think that is too much of an issue.

@zacharius @sgparent this is how smart card based authentication works. The smart card both holds the key and does the signing. If the smart card is lost it won’t work without a pin. It also self erases after enough failed attempts.

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