Story image

Should we scrap passwords altogether?

01 Sep 2015

Passwords are no longer enough when it comes to modern information security, according to new research from LaunchKey, which revealed password-based authentication is no longer capable of keeping up with the demands of today’s online environment.

According to survey data, 84% of respondents would support eliminating passwords all together. 

Additionally, more than three-fourths of those surveyed (76%) feel their data would be more secure with an alternative form of verification, with 59% preferring fingerprint scans over passwords.

Nearly half of the survey respondents (46%) said they currently have more than 10 passwords to manage, and 68% acknowledged that they reuse passwords for multiple accounts. Additionally, 77% said they often forget passwords or have to write them down. 

Among respondents' top password pet peeves are those systems that require users to change their password frequently, and systems that require users to create passwords that do not fit the model of one they regularly use.

"Today, the pace of security breaches directly related to stolen passwords and bypassed authentication is increasing along with the severity of their consequences," explains Geoff Sanders, CEO, LaunchKey. 

"Passwords are inherently insecure as a method of authentication, and their efficacy relies on end users, developers, system administrators, and the applications themselves, all of which are vulnerable to a wide variety of attack vectors currently being exploited by cyberattacks around the world." 

Adding to this point, Sanders noted that 27% of survey respondents acknowledged sharing their passwords with someone else.

While strong authentication is the correct approach to be taken, the traditional method of two-factor authentication (2FA) is insufficient, Sanders says. 

According to the LaunchKey survey, 64% of those surveyed do not know what 2FA is while only 20% say 2FA is easy to use.

Furthermore, many 2FA solutions on the market today represent a noticeable cost and logistical burden. A single hardware token can cost as much as $100 or more, making a 2FA solution that only satisfies a limited subset of use cases, impractical.

The LaunchKey survey also measured users' trust of public institutions to protect personal information. 

With the high number of recent data breaches in retail stores, such as Target and Home Depot, LaunchKey says it is no surprise that 52% of survey respondents expressed little to no confidence in retail stores being able to properly secure one's personal information, and 43% had little to no confidence in online retailers.

Conversely, 48% of respondents expressed high confidence in banks being able to protect personal information.

"The future of authentication is free from traditional passwords," Sanders says. "We must remove the vulnerability and liability that passwords have created while implementing more secure authentication methods that account for an evolving and diversified landscape of use cases, end users and threats."

Interview: Culture and cloud - the battle for cybersecurity
ESET CTO Juraj Malcho talks about the importance of culture in a cybersecurity strategy and the challenges and benefits of a world in the cloud.
Enterprise cloud deployments being exploited by cybercriminals
A new report has revealed a concerning number of enterprises still believe security is the responsibility of the cloud service provider.
Ping Identity Platform updated with new CX and IT automation
The new versions improve the user and administrative experience, while also aiming to meet enterprise needs to operate quickly and purposefully.
Venafi and nCipher Security partner on machine identity protection
Cryptographic keys serve as machine identities and are the foundation of enterprise information technology systems.
Machine learning is a tool and the bad guys are using it
KPMG NZ’s CIO and ESET’s CTO spoke at a recent cybersecurity conference about how machine learning and data analytics are not to be feared, but used.
Seagate: Data trends, opportunities, and challenges at the edge
The development of edge technology and the rise of big data have brought many opportunities for data infrastructure companies to the fore.
Popular Android apps track users and violate Google's policies
Google has reportedly taken action against some of the violators.
How blockchain could help stop video piracy in its tracks
An Australian video tech firm has successfully tested a blockchain trial that could end up being a welcome relief for video creators and the fight against video piracy.