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Here’s why (and how) the world should remove the need for passwords

Are you a good password user?

If you have different passwords for every account, each a unique configuration of letters, numbers, capitals, and symbols, perhaps you are. No one can access your accounts. Including you.

Today, to access our many online accounts, each of us has an average of a hundred passwords. We need the accounts to access modern life swiftly – but if that means playing a memory game each time we want to access them, that ‘swift’ access is just a figment of our imaginations.

Plus, fraud is still a huge problem; a recent report found that almost two in three companies were hit by it in the last two years. The complexity of having over a hundred passwords could be doing the opposite of their original purpose – exposing our accounts to risk.

The truth? Passwords need to be put to rest. Here’s why, and how it’s possible without leaving our online accounts at the mercy of fraudsters.

Customers no longer trust passwords

Research shows that organisations and consumers are trying hard to implement the current password advice.

Technological solutions like password managers are seeing strong uptake. We’re using the complex passwords that websites generate for us. There are even campaigns to allow us to copy passwords within sites to streamline user experiences. Fraud, however, has not been reduced. More than £4 million was stolen from UK citizens by fraudsters every single day last year, a huge increase on 2019.

When consumers are punished either by continued hacking, having to wrack their brains for the password, or being locked out of their accounts after too many wrong attempts, they lose confidence. This limits the speed at which a post-pandemic economy can grow. Now, more than ever, businesses need our commerce.

Innovation in helping humans remember passwords is misplaced. We need a fresh start for security that works with, not against, natural human ability. But what’s next?

Ask for access by simply using your voice 

Devices like Alexa and Google Home are revolutionising consumer technology today. Statistics show that half of UK citizens already have a voice assistant. Their seamless integration into the way we live our lives points clearly to the fact that voice technology has that instantaneous outcome we’re seeking.

When we want to know the weather, we ask our smart assistants. When we want a reminder of what’s on our to-do lists, we ask our phones. Today, when you want help, you ask your voice assistant.

The same should go for access to our apps and accounts. When we want access, all we should be doing is asking for it. Plain and simple – nothing complex to remember, nothing to copy and paste. 

Voice technologies can grant us access to our online accounts in two ways: once a person enrolls with their voice, a template is created. Then, they can authenticate in just two steps: first, the system matches their voice with the biometric template to verify identity, and second, it determines the liveness of the voice. This ensures the person asking for access is really there behind the screen, rather than a voice recording.

In combination with face technology, which we’re increasingly seeing in a vast array of consumer-friendly, speedy, and secure use-cases, voice creates a powerful security seal upon the account that’s one hundred times stronger than face alone. 

All organisations that require consumers to log into online accounts should strongly consider adapting their apps to use these advanced technologies. Through this, they can achieve security which is highly intuitive and simpler for the customer, whilst also being far stronger in the face of fraudsters. However, to get consumers on board, they will have to prove the value of voice.

Customer experience must come first in a password-less age

Unlike a random string of letters and numbers, our voices are precious to us. The opportunities brought about by faster and more secure voice authentication are numerous. However, organisations will only benefit from them if they can prove that sharing this personal information brings value to people.

Critically, it’s our phones and smart devices that store the biometric information – not the bank or retail app. This means businesses can’t look at the voice data and interpret it to understand who the customer is, regarding their age, gender, or ethnicity, for instance. For banks and app providers to truly get closer to their customers, they will need to make themselves more access-friendly, by allowing voice authentication to users of Apple, Android or other operating systems. Once the customer is in the app, they can be rewarded for using the smarter and stress-free voice option.

It’s an investment for organisations, but the benefits of longer-term consumer loyalty are worth having. Research shows that consumer preference is pushing organisations to embrace automation. The majority of customers consider biometric solutions to be the most effective way to validate identity; an average of 64% across the surveyed biometric types. On the other hand, password approval has plummeted another 10% over the last year.

The price for failing to implement voice authentication isn’t just that customers will become increasingly weary of passwords and turn away from websites or apps that require them. Fraudsters are stealing passwords at every opportunity. According to statistics, combined identity fraud losses reached $56 billion in 2020, with many of those losses attributable to poor authentication during new account opening.

Organisations must get biometrics right first time to avoid compromising customer data. It is estimated that, in 2023, 40% of large and global enterprises’ biometric authentication initiatives will experience failure or be compromised, due to incomplete assessment and mitigation of risks. The work starts now to ensure your company isn’t one of those.

Voice technology is the key to a future without passwords

Passwords are unsuited to our modern world. Consumers demand security and speed. To serve them, we need to introduce a faster, seamless authentication option that promises protection against fraudsters.

A passwordless future relies on our unique features such as voice, face, and fingerprints to gain digital access conveniently and securely. 

However, while biometrics is the next step forward, its adoption is stalled by people’s fear and lack of understanding of the technology.

The good news is that this hurdle can be overcome. The key to a password-less future starts with education. We need to help people understand how biometrics work, why they can never be stolen or misused, and how biometrics can open the door to digital access perfectly suited to our needs in the 21st century.

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René Hendrikse

René Hendrikse

Vice President & Managing Director, EMEA & LATAM

Mitek

Member since

23 Jul 2019

Location

Amsterdam

Blog posts

10

This post is from a series of posts in the group:

Information Security

The risks from Cyber cime - Hacking - Loss of Data Privacy - Identity Theft and other topical threats - can be greatly reduced by implementation of robust IT Security controls ...


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