Consumers Want Security Beyond Passwords

The Accenture research revealed that openness to security alternatives is pervasive in countries in many different parts of the world.

accenture and security

A majority of consumers think user names and passwords are cumbersome and would prefer using alternatives when it comes to protecting their security on the Internet, according to an Accenture survey of 24,000 consumers across six continents.

The survey also found that less than half (46 percent) of consumers globally are confident in the security of their personal data.

Consumers in emerging countries were slightly more confident in the security of their personal data than were those in developed countries, at 50 percent and 42 percent.

"It's difficult to absolutely guarantee security, but new types of personal biometric authentication technologies are being developed and used," Robin Murdoch, managing director of Accenture's Internet and social business segment, told eWEEK. "Biometrics are embedded in high tech products to scan fingerprints, palm prints, the iris of your eye, as well as [recognize voices and faces]. Passwords, user names and personal identification numbers (PINs) have for many years been the main methods to authenticate."

Murdoch noted that using biometrics could supplement or even replace passwords, and depending on how they are implemented, biometrics can be easier to use than passwords and user names.

"Examples of alternatives include two-factor authentication, device encryption, managed passwords and authenticators," he explained. "Two-factor authentication, also known as multifactor authentication, uses an extra layer of security that requires a password and user name, plus something the user has in his possession. Device encryption protects local device data from offline hardware attacks using a file-based encryption filter. The user's device-lock PIN protects the master key for the encryption."

The research also revealed that openness to alternatives is pervasive in countries in many different parts of the world, with consumers in China and India most likely to be open to alternatives, at 92 percent and 84 percent.

"Consumers must have confidence that the organization is collecting, storing and using their digital information in a manner that benefits and protects them," the report noted. "It acts as a bond between the business and the consumer, and allows product and service adoption to flourish. As the Internet of Things (IoT) unleashes an exponential jump in the data businesses have on consumers, digital trust is the gateway to monetizing its value."

More than three-quarters (78 percent) of consumers in Brazil, Mexico and Sweden, and 74 percent in the United States, are also willing to consider security methods other than user names and passwords.

"Consumers want convenience when it comes to security—not added hassle," Murdoch said. "The important point consumers should understand is that using biometrics can supplement—or even replace— passwords. Depending on how they are implemented, biometrics can be easier to use than passwords and usernames."