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Consumers Want Password Alternatives

Consumer confidence in online passwords wanes and their password hygiene remains as sketchy as ever, study finds.

Consumers would be very much behind the elimination of passwords from the online environment if retailers, banks and other services could get it together to institute an alternative, according to a new survey out this week.

The study showed that, as things stand, most consumers are not confident in online brands or the efforts they've made so far to supplement password security. And, like many password surveys before it, this one shows once again that part of that mistrust stems from consumers' admitted inability to effectively manage password hygiene for their own accounts.

“Passwords are inherently insecure as a method of authentication, and their efficacy relies on end users, developers, system administrators, and the applications themselves, all of which are vulnerable to a wide variety of attack vectors currently being exploited by cyberattacks around the world," says Geoff Sanders, CEO of LaunchKey, which conducted the survey among 589 respondents.

The report confirms similar numbers from past surveys. For example, 68 percent of respondents reuse passwords across multiple accounts and 77 percent often forget passwords and have to write them down. This comes largely from the volume of login details they must remember. Nearly half of respondents have to manage more than 10 passwords at a time.

In spite of many major brands working on efforts to institute two-factor authentication, nearly two-thirds of consumers are still unfamiliar with these additional authentication methods and only about 20 percent believe they are easy to use, according to the survey.

Another survey out this week by Ponemon Institute shows that growing awareness of two-factor methods have started to up the ante on consumer perception of password security online environments. Looking at what drives consumer confidence in online brands, the study showed that 31 percent of consumers don't trust websites that only rely on passwords to identify and authenticate them.

Tellingly in the LaunchKey survey, 52 percent of survey respondents said they had little to no confidence in online retailers and 76 percent feel their data would be more secure with an alternative form of verification. Just over half of them support the idea of getting rid of passwords altogether. Approximately 59 percent of respondents say they'd prefer using fingerprint scans over passwords.

"The future of authentication is free from traditional passwords,” Sanders said. “We must remove the vulnerability and liability that passwords have created while implementing more secure authentication methods that account for an evolving and diversified landscape of use cases, end users and threats.”


Ericka Chickowski specializes in coverage of information technology and business innovation. She has focused on information security for the better part of a decade and regularly writes about the security industry as a contributor to Dark Reading.  View Full Bio

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User Rank: Apprentice
9/7/2015 | 4:04:50 AM
A passwordless world would bring a nightmare.
In a world where we live without remembered passwords, say, where our identity is established without our volitional participation, we would be able to have a safe sleep only when we are alone in a firmly locked room. Is this what we want?
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