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More Companies Don't Rely on Passwords Alone Anymore

New research shows how enterprises are adding additional layers of authentication.

New research shows that for a growing number of enterprises now, passwords alone are not enough and they instead are combining strong passwords with two-factor authentication (2FA). 

The study - released today by ThumbSignIn, market intelligence firm One World Identity and IAM provider Gluu - queried nearly 75 top IT and security managers, including C-level executives and vice presidents from various industries including finance, IT, and education. The survey analysis was also based on conversations with many of the top executives.

Vivek Lakshman, vice president of Innovation at ThumbSignIn, says 36% of the respondents depend on passwords plus 2FA, just slightly below the 40% of organizations that still employ passwords-only.

"There's no question that passwords plus 2FA [two-factor authentication] is better than passwords-only," says Andrew Shikiar, executive director and chief marketing officer of the FIDO Alliance. "People need to remember that this is a journey, it's not a matter of flipping a switch and everything will be passwordless." 

ThumbSignIn's Lakshman acknowledges that there are many challenges ahead in moving to passwordless authentication. In the study, for example,  76% of respondents say the complexity of implementation is a top-of-mind issue when they deploy biometrics or 2FA.

Interestingly, a full 100% say they are more interested in biometrics for the user experience than they are for security purposes. Only 75% are interested in biometrics for security.

"While that 100% number was surprising, we're finding that a lot of companies are looking at biometrics as a top-line business opportunity," says FIDO Alliance's Shikiar. "Companies view biometrics as a better way to get people using their services and enhance the overall brand experience."

Even with the recent Capital One hack and the ransomware events at city governments, the industry has been making some important progress. He points to the emergence of FIDO2 earlier this year, which offers browser support for passwordless authentication, notes Lakshman.

And this week's study found that 64% of respondents consider FIDO "necessary" or a "good-to-have" standard. Another finding from the study: in the next few years, passwordless biometrics (21%) will be the second-fastest growing authentication method behind 2FA (29%).

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