People now prioritise security over convenience when logging into applications and devices, according to an IBM Security study examining consumer perspectives around digital identity and authentication.

Generational differences also emerged showing that younger adults are putting less care into traditional password hygiene, yet are more likely to use biometrics, multifactor authentication and password managers to improve their personal security.

Overall, respondents recognised the benefits of biometric technologies like fingerprint readers, facial scans and voice recognition, as threats to their digital identity continue to mount.

The IBM Security: Future of Identity Study surveyed nearly 4,000 adults from across the US, Asia Pacific (APAC) and Europe to gain insight into consumer viewpoints around authentication. Some key findings from consumers include:

  • Security outweighs convenience: People ranked security as the highest priority for logging in to the majority of applications, particularly when it came to money-related apps.
  • Biometrics becoming mainstream: 67 per cent are comfortable using biometric authentication today, while 87 per cent say they’ll be comfortable with these technologies in the future.
  • Millennials moving beyond passwords: While 75 per cent of millennials are comfortable using biometrics today, less than half of are using complex passwords, and 41 per cent reuse passwords. Older generations showed more care with password creation, but were less inclined to adopt biometrics and multifactor authentication.
  • APAC leading charge on biometrics: Respondents in APAC were the most knowledgeable and comfortable with biometric authentication, while the US lagged furthest behind in these categories.

The evolving threat and technology landscape have created widely-known challenges with traditional log-in methods that rely heavily on passwords and personal information to authenticate our identities online.

In 2017, data breaches exposed personal information, passwords, and even social security numbers for millions of consumers. Additionally, the average internet user in America is managing over 150 online accounts that require a password, which is expected to rise to over 300 accounts in coming years.

“In the wake of countless data breaches of highly sensitive personal data, there’s no longer any doubt that the very information we’ve used to prove our identities online in the past is now a shared secret in the hands of hackers,” said Chris Hockings, CTO for IBM Security A/NZ.

“As consumers are acknowledging the inadequacy of passwords and placing increased priority on security, the time is ripe to adopt more advanced methods that prove identity on multiple levels and can be adapted based on behaviour and risk.”

The survey also examined consumers’ opinions around the security of various login methods, and found that certain types of biometrics were viewed as more secure than passwords, yet security and privacy remain top concerns when it comes to adopting biometrics.

  • 44 per cent ranked fingerprint biometrics as one of the most secure method of authentication; passwords and PINs were seen as less secure (27 per cent and 12 per cent respectively)
  • People’s biggest concerns with biometric authentication were privacy (how the data is collected and used – 55 per cent), and security (others using fake biometric data to access their accounts – 50 per cent).
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