Biometric passwords popular among frustrated digital users


Friday, 17 November, 2017


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The vast majority of people use the same password across multiple accounts, a new survey has found.

This is despite the fact that half of all digital users are feeling more anxious about cyber scams

ME’s new Password Pain Survey suggests that 89% of people are using the same password, while close to half of the 2000 mobile or tablet users surveyed admitted they shared passwords with others. Among millennials, this figure climbed to 64%, which makes them vulnerable to compromise or theft.

ME’s cybersecurity expert, Samantha MacLeod, said the lack of regard for password security relates to people’s inability to remember multiple passwords.

According to ME’s Password Pain Survey, 68% described the process of setting up and remembering passwords as ‘frustrating’.

“These stats aren’t surprising given the average person now needs to remember around 19 different passwords for the digital services they use,” said MacLeod.

“Unfortunately, digital users tend to pick easy-to-remember combinations that they repeat across applications on their devices. Or they share passwords to save paying for subscriptions.”

MacLeod said biometric authentication is helping to solve many password-related woes for digital users in the future.

According to ME’s survey, 71% said ‘biometric passwords are easier as they don’t have to remember their password’ all of the time, while 67% said ‘biometric passwords increased their confidence in protecting their money’.

“As ME’s findings indicate, digital users want security and ease of use, which is exactly what biometric-enabled passwords provide,” said MacLeod.

“For the foreseeable future, however, expect to rely on a combination of techniques. And, really, passwords don’t have to be a pain. In fact, managing your passwords can be easy, or at least easier than you think.

“The easiest way is to use a password generator that will create new passwords for you of varying length and complexity. Or you can create strong passwords yourself and store them in a secure online vault.”

A computer program is generally much better at creating and remembering complex passwords than a human.

Surprisingly, only 10% of respondents in ME’s Password Pain Survey used password managers to set up and remember passwords.

Although it is not endorsed by security professionals, ‘keeping a paper list and putting it in a safe place’ was the most popular way people remembered passwords, according to ME’s research. Other popular methods included ‘using patterns’ and ‘saving passwords on phones’.

“Patterns are not as strong as the complex passwords that can be machine generated,” MacLeod said.

“Industry research suggests a password pattern can be cracked in five attempts by someone determined to access your data.”

ME has been using biometrics called TouchID on its mobile banking app since 2016.

Image credit: ©James Thew/Dollar Photo Club

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