App users value security over convenience – and biometrics over passwords, IBM finds

A recent IBM survey indicates that when logging into mobile apps, the majority of users prefer security over convenience, though millennials especially prefer the more convenient security of biometrics over passwords.

According to the IBM Future of Identity Study, released earlier this year, while security trumps convenience for the majority of users, there is a pronounced generation gap when it comes to how users prefer to ensure their security: For example, 75 per cent of millennials reported being comfortable using biometric technology such as facial or fingerprint scans, versus 58 per cent of respondents over 55.

Older adults had developed more secure password habits, with the average using 12 passwords (younger respondents averaged five), only 31 per cent repeating them across sites (versus 41 per cent of millennials), and 49 per cent incorporating special characters, numbers, and letters into their passwords (versus 42 per cent of millennials) – which “could be an indication that younger generations have less confidence in passwords and are instead looking to alternative methods to secure their accounts,” IBM noted.

“As the percentage of millennial and Gen Z employees continues to grow in the workforce, organizations and businesses can adapt to younger generations’ proclivity for new technology by allowing for increased use of mobile devices as the primary authentication factor and integrating approaches that substitute biometric methods or tokens in place of passwords,” the company wrote in a Jan. 29 release.

Overall, however, respondents ranked security as their highest priority before logging into the majority of mobile apps, particularly financial apps, online marketplaces, workplace apps, and email, IBM said, and while 67 per cent of respondents said they were comfortable using biometric authentication today, 87 per cent anticipated being comfortable with the technology in the future.

The study also found that young adults were the users most likely to prize convenience over security, with 47 per cent of respondents under 24 indicating they would prefer a faster sign-in experience to a more secure type of authentication – possibly illustrating their comfort with biometrics, IBM noted.

Convenience also had a slight lead (36 per cent) over security (34 per cent) and privacy (30 per cent) when it came to social media apps.

IBM’s Future of Identity Study collected online survey responses from 3,977 adults across the U.S., U.K., E.U., Australia, India, and Singapore between Oct. 21 and Nov. 5, 2017. Canada was not included.

The company summarized its findings in a handy infographic which you can check out below (click for a full version), or you can download the full report here.

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Eric Emin Wood
Eric Emin Wood
Former editor of turned consultant with public relations firm Porter Novelli. When not writing for the tech industry enjoys photography, movies, travelling, the Oxford comma, and will talk your ear off about animation if you give him an opening.

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