IBM carried out a study focused on the authentication method used when a user logging into applications and devices.

Generational differences also emerged showing that younger adults are putting less care into traditional password hygiene, yet are more likely to use biometrics, multifactor authentication and password managers to improve their personal security. Respondents generally recognized the benefits of biometric technologies such as fingerprint readers, facial scans and voice recognition, as threats to their digital identity continue to rise.



Key findings

According to IBM survey,  nearly 4,000 adults from across the U.S., Asia Pacific (APAC) and Europe to gain insight into consumer viewpoints around authentication. Some key findings from consumers include:

Security outweighs convenience: People ranked security as the highest priority for logging in to the majority of applications, particularly when it came to money-related apps.

Biometrics becoming mainstream: 67 percent are comfortable using biometric authentication now, while 87 percent say they’ll be satisfied with these technologies in the future.

Millennials moving beyond passwords: While 75 percent of millennials are comfortable using biometrics today, less than half are using elaborated passwords and 41 percent reuse passwords. Older generations showed more care with password creation but were less inclined to adopt biometrics and multi-factor authentication.


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APAC leading charge on biometrics: Respondents in APAC were the most knowledgeable and comfortable with biometric authentication, while the U.S. lagged furthest behind in these categories.

Awareness is needed in this era, said Limor Kessem, Executive Security Advisor, IBM Security:

“In the wake of countless data breaches of highly sensitive personal data, there’s no longer any doubt that the very information we’ve used to prove our identities online in the past is now a shared secret in the hands of hackers”

“As consumers are acknowledging the inadequacy of passwords and placing increased priority on security, the time is ripe to adopt more advanced methods that prove identity on multiple levels and can be adapted based on behavior and risk”


Survey results around security, convenience, and privacy contradict the long-held wisdom that “convenience is king.” While consumers have long been thought to prefer a fast sign-in experience with minimal friction, the survey results show that people rank security as a higher preference than privacy or convenience for the majority of applications – particularly for money-related applications.

The survey revealed several differences in generational viewpoints when it comes to securing their online identities. Older adults displayed better habits when it came to password creation, yet younger generations were more inclined to adopt password managers, biometrics and multi-factor authentication as a way to secure their online accounts. This could be an indication that younger generations have less confidence in passwords and are instead looking to alternative methods to secure their accounts.



Future of identity

IBM recommends organizations to adjust to these preferences by taking advantage of identity platforms that provide users with choices between multiple authentication options – for example, letting users toggle between a mobile push-notification, which invokes fingerprint readers on their phone, or a one-time passcode.

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