Firefox enables deprecated Fido U2F Support for Google Accounts


125 points | by coffee-- 103 days ago


  • snek 103 days ago

    Damn shame to see the internet move backwards because Google refuses to use the standardized APIs.

    Edit: Usually HN is so angry about Google not following web standards but everyone in this thread seems to be in favor of Google trampling the WebAuthn standard. Weird.

    • jrockway 103 days ago

      What sites could you sign into with a cryptographic second factor before Google launched U2F? All that was out there were easily-phishable TOTP tokens. Now you can register a security key and use it as a second factor on desktops and phones. It's pretty impressive, though unfortunate that ultimately the industry picked a similar-but-different standard.

      What sites currently let me authenticate with WebAuthn? (Github still uses U2F, it seems.)

      • phren0logy 103 days ago

        Dropbox uses WebAuthn. They are, as far as I can tell, the most significant site using it currently.

      • agwa 103 days ago

        > What sites currently let me authenticate with WebAuthn? (Github still uses U2F, it seems.)

        • taeric 103 days ago

          Can I, though? I asked to see if there was a way to build a habit out of my security token. Not only did I not get responses there, but I haven't actually found that many places that support using a u2f token. There are an some that support it ok, but all require me to use chrome and none seem to support using it at least once a day. (Or anything like that.)

          • ecesena 102 days ago

            re: your thread.

            Today the backup practice is to enable 2 keys in all accounts: one that you keep with yourself, the other that you leave in a safe.

            There's been some experiments of creating copies of the master secret, e.g. [1]. Today you can do so either w/ u2f zero or with its upgrade solo hacker (note the hacker version), but we currently don't support it officially.

            My personal advice as of now is to always have security key(s) + totp code. The security keys protect you against phishing, so if you click on an email link and get prompted for login, you're either safe (if you use the security key) or at least reminded about the risk (if you're used to use the security key but you don't have it with you at the moment). Viceversa, if you're directly logging into a website and you typed the url yourself, then totp offers the same security, so it's a totally valid alternative. Hope this makes sense.


            • taeric 102 days ago

              Ok, I thought the whole point was that I couldn't get a secret off a token. :(

              My biggest concern is that I don't have a solid method to build the habit of using the devices. I started using pass to generate and store passwords. That doesn't work with just u2f keys, though. That I could tell.

          • will4274 103 days ago

            > What sites currently let me authenticate with WebAuthn?

            Microsoft sites like Outlook and OneDrive.

            • alfalfasprout 103 days ago

              Duo push works decently well and is far more secure than eg; TOTP.

            • cbhl 103 days ago

              In my opinion, the root cause of this is that Linux made a conscious decision to not maintain binary ABI compatibility with device drivers.

              Android is open source, and Linux-based. The licenses allow phone manufacturers to fork Android and integrate it with devices that only have closed-source binary blob drivers, without involving Google. The end result is a bunch of phones whose kernels (and thus OSes) are impossible to update. (I am told that Microsoft found this sufficiently frustrating and that it decided it would write its own drivers for the vast majority of hardware.)

              Linux has a Very Good Reason to discourage binary driver compatibility -- it would rather see those drivers be open-sourced under GPL and moved in-tree. But the end result has seriously hurt the security of more than two-thirds of Android users -- users who otherwise should be inclined to choose open-source because they are paranoid about security.

              I think the right answer is to require folks to have Android Q+ to continue to use security keys with an Android account, but I imagine that's not a viable choice because the optics would be that Google is doing a "money grab" in exchange for security.

              • admax88q 103 days ago

                Are you seriously saying that the reason Google hasn't implemented a _web_ standard is because Linux doesn't provide good enough support for binary device drivers?

                That's just ridiculous.

                • intherdfield 103 days ago

                  Apparently, the two are related. From the post,

                  "We’ve recently learned that Google Accounts has slipped their schedule for using Web Authentication to register new credentials. This delay is attributed to security key support on Android being, for most devices, non-upgradable."

                • amluto 103 days ago


                  Linux has had perfectly fine U2F 1 support for ages. All you need on a normal desktop box is u2f-hidraw-policy [0] and, optionally, the u2f CLI tools.


                • sametmax 103 days ago

                  OpenOffice gained traction by supporting .doc files. VLC because it could read .wma and .mov files. Linux when it could read NTFS partitions.

                  "Be conservative in what you do, be liberal in what you accept from others" is good practice in software, espacially in open source. You can't be picky when you are the underdog anyway.

                  • rstuart4133 100 days ago

                    > Usually HN is so angry about Google not following web standards but everyone in this thread seems to be in favor of Google trampling the WebAuthn standard. Weird.

                    Maybe it's because according to the article "Google trampling WebAuthn standard" miss characterises what is actually going on:

                    > We’ve recently learned that Google Accounts has slipped their schedule for using Web Authentication to register new credentials.

                    • maxerickson 103 days ago

                      How quickly would they have to deploy a new standard for it to not be trampling?

                      Do you think they planned legacy Android devices not being able to support the new standard?

                      • apostacy 103 days ago

                        I'm more rustled to again see Firefox again try to emulate the worst of Chrome.

                      • AdmiralAsshat 103 days ago

                        Would be nice. Even with the experimental settings turned on in about:config, I could only read input from my Yubikey, I couldn't add one. I had to install Chromium just so I could add my Yubikey to my Google account.

                        • akerl_ 103 days ago

                          This is mentioned as a side note in the first comment of the Firefox issue: they were explicitly whitelisting the “Sign” operation so that registration didn’t work.

                          • ecesena 103 days ago

                            I think this is because of Google - they only allow registration via Chrome (to the best of my knowledge). But then you should be able to use your key from Firefox.

                            • lurker213 103 days ago

                              if you are on linux and using the flatpak version of firefox it could be because of sandboxing and USB read permissions.

                            • mediocrejoker 103 days ago

                              This is good. It's been working with FastMail for months so I'm not sure what the problem was.

                              • lkbm 103 days ago

                                From what I understand:

                                * FastMail has implemented WebAuth, the newer standard, which Firefox supports

                                * Google hasn't implemented WebAuth because they have to(?) wait for the end-of-life of old Android devices.

                                * Firefox is going to put an override so that you can use the old standard on Google accounts, which Google does support.

                                It sounds like Google's slowness to enable WebAuth is a somewhat legitimate issue of backwards compatibility for old devices, though I haven't personally evaluated it.

                                • chrismorgan 103 days ago

                                  FastMail is still using the old FIDO U2F API; we’ve been planning on migrating to WebAuthn since it was finalised, but investigation revealed that the migration would not be entirely straightforward (especially if tokens registered with WebAuthn needed to still work with U2F, which at the time was important but could probably now be skipped), so we deferred it, since the U2F support is adequate for most users. I expect this is the experience with many small teams that support the FIDO U2F API. Documentation on migration is difficult to come by; I think is the main source I’ve encountered.

                                  • lkbm 101 days ago

                                    Thanks for the clarification.

                                  • tgragnato 103 days ago

                                    Android devices do not receive updates. This creates all sort of issues, including inconsistency and lack of features. Legitimate and sensible decision, but sad.

                                • drewg123 103 days ago

                                  Not a web dev. Is there a way to force U2F with firefox for google accounts? The lack of (obvious) U2F support in FF for Google accounts is one of the things holding me back from switching back to FF from Chrome.

                                  • ecesena 103 days ago

                                    Note that if you enable 2fa with Chrome, then you can log in with Firefox. Just adding/removing keys (in Google) doesn't work.

                                    • chedabob 103 days ago

                                      Yep, I've just been through this process on both personal and work Gsuite.

                                      They've changed the message in Firefox to make it a little clearer this is how to do it.

                                    • web007 103 days ago

                                      "We agreed then to implement a hard-coded permission for Google Accounts when utilizing FIDO U2F API credential support, whether that was via Web Authentication’s backward compatibility extension, or via Firefox’s FIDO U2F API support hidden behind the “security.webauth.u2f” preference."


                                    • inetknght 103 days ago

                                      Does this mean I can finally use my Yubikey in Firefox on Linux as my second factor authentication with my Google accounts?

                                      • ecesena 103 days ago

                                        Pretty sure you can already use it. You can't register it currently.

                                        • taeric 103 days ago

                                          I can confirm this.

                                          I'm also curious if anyone in this topic has advice for how to make U2F a habit. I posted, but didn't get anything. :(

                                        • bpye 103 days ago

                                          I've found the Firefox U2F support on Windows, especially with Google, quite temperamental. It will prompt me to touch my Yubikey and I will, only to get some failure. I can't work out what causes it but replygging and retrying a few times normally gets me logged in. Very irritating.

                                          • inetknght 102 days ago

                                            No problem: I already registered it using Chrome on a different computer. Nonetheless, I consistently have trouble using it on Firefox on Linux.

                                        • breakingcups 102 days ago

                                          For all the hooks Google has into nearly every Android device through Google Play, I would've thought the one party burned in ROMs wouldn't be a problem for would be Google.

                                          • amluto 103 days ago

                                            If you’re on Linux, you’ll want u2f-hideaway-policy installed to avoid permission issues.


                                            • taeric 103 days ago

                                              Is this necessary for newer installs? Pretty sure the titan keys and the yubikey I have worked without any special setup on the latest ubuntu.

                                              • amluto 101 days ago

                                                AFAICT Ubuntu uses a big hack that maintains a list of known U2F tokens rather than detecting whether the device speaks the U2F protocol. u2f-hidraw-policy does the latter, so it’s forward compatible.

                                                I should get it into upstream systemd.

                                            • caprese 103 days ago

                                              Does this make Ledger Nanos work on Firefox now?