User forgetfulness drives preference for biometrics over passwords

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More than half of consumers have had to reset their password at least once a month because they have trouble remembering it, and only 6% describe this form of authentication as secure.

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Instead, 53% believed fingerprint scans were more secure than passwords, while 47% chose facial recognition, revealed a study by the Entrust Institute for Cybersecurity that surveyed 1,450 respondents in 12 global markets. These included France, the US and the UK, as well as 400 respondents from four Asia-Pacific cities in Singapore, Australia, Japan and Indonesia.

Interestingly, 41% found 4- or 6-digit PIN codes more secure than passwords.

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The survey revealed that 51% reset their password at least once a month because they couldn’t remember it, including 15% who did it weekly.

Across the four Asia-Pacific markets, 41% admitted to resetting their password at least once a month, while nearly 10% did so weekly. Given the choice between biometrics or passwords, around 75% would opt for the former at least half of the time, while a third would choose biometrics whenever available.

Globally, 58% would choose biometrics over passwords at least half the time and 33% would always, and 16% said they would never select biometrics.

Among those who chose not to, a third described biometrics as more cumbersome than passwords, while 22% said their devices did not support this form of authentication. About 17% noted security concerns about biometrics.

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“There is no one correct way for organizations to authenticate the identity of a customer, employee or citizen,” Entrust chief information security officer Mark Ruchie said. “It’s always a trade-off between providing relatively seamless login experiences and building in security measures that confirm users are who they say they are. The authentication methods you employ can, and should, change based on circumstances, such as the sensitivity of data to accessed by users, whether you’re serving customers or employees, or if you’re exhibiting atypical login behaviors.”

Acceptance for loss of control of data

The study also uncovered some interesting insights into consumer attitudes toward ownership of their digital credentials and personal data.

Less than half, 45%, believed they owned their personal information. Some 28% said their data belonged to whoever controlled it, while 27% said ownership belonged to the issuer.

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These sentiments can be related to how respondents felt about data control, with 74% noting that sharing their personal information was unavoidable in order to access goods, services and applications.

When asked if they felt comfortable entrusting their online identity to organizations they trusted to improve the user experience, 54% said they would. However, 46% thought otherwise and said they should be the sole owner of their digital identity.

In Asia-Pacific, 75% also agreed that sharing their personal data to access products and services was unavoidable. Half would be comfortable trusting organizations to own and store their digital identity, while the other half would not.

To help them feel more in control of their data, 42% globally indicated the ability to revoke access, while 32% would like to know which organizations had access to their personal information. Another 30% would like to know the privacy policy of the organization and 19% said that the email should not contain personal data.

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When asked if they had a form of electronic identity, 43% said yes, while 36% said no. Some 21% were not sure if they had one, which Entrust said might suggest that not all respondents in the US, for example, were aware that their government had been automatically issuing digital passports to all holders since 2006. Only 27% in the country said they had an electronic identity.

Overall, 70% would use a government-issued digital form of ID if it were available, with most citing convenience as the top benefit. However, while 49% said enhanced security was the reason they would use an eID, 45% cited security concerns as the reason they would not. Another 36% listed identity theft as their concern for opting for a digital ID.

In Asia-Pacific, about 20% were not sure if they had an electronic ID, although 70% would use a government-issued one if it were available.

Noting that both digital and physical identities had their challenges and benefits, Entrust COO Anudeep Parhar said: “It’s not a zero-sum game. Giving consumers access to both formats gives them the flexibility to choose what works best for them or for a given situation.”

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James D. Brown
James D. Brown
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