Internet users demand stronger authentication

Internet users demand stronger authentication

New research from Jupiter Media Metrix reveals that US Internet consumers are demanding stronger online authentication procedures and simpler log-in requirements.

The research shows the percentage of US consumers likely to register personal information with an online site increased from 26 per cent in 1999 to 47 per cent in 2001. Over 80 per cent of these online consumers would consider some form of enhanced online authentication to increase the security of their online purchases. While 24 per cent of consumers see no need for increased protection when making purchases in physical stores, only 14 per cent see no need for increased security online.

Jupiter analysts suggest an authentication card or verification system that consumers are familiar with or that is available both online and off-line will have a much better chance of consumer adoption than other methods.

Forty-nine per cent of online consumers would be willing to type in a four-digit PIN number as additional security when they make an online purchase. An additional 32 per cent would be willing to type in a password created by their credit card company.

Rob Leathern, Jupiter analyst, comments: "Current password-based online authentication is cumbersome, insecure and unsafe. Without cost-effective ways to securely authenticate users and increase confidence in the online medium, not only will online commerce not reach its full potential, but also future user-centric services that aim to combine data and preference information from many consumers or companies will never come to fruition. Companies must first focus on increasing the amount of customer self-service in their current authentication processes and improve their in-house analytical capabilities."

Currently, 42 per cent of consumers claim they are annoyed with using different log-in names and passwords to access different Web sites. Jupiter points out that evolving online demographics mean a simplified log-in process will become a much more important factor for merchants and financial institutions over the next five years.

While only 22 per cent of consumers between the ages of 18 and 24 say a simplified log-in process is desirable, 42 per cent of those 55 and older say the same - a group who will comprise the fastest-growing online segment over the next five years, notes the research company.

Seventy-four per cent of companies surveyed allow consumers to choose password for access to their online sites, but only 35 per cent let users create password reminders or password challenge-responses to assist them in remembering their passwords. Yet, for more than one-third of companies over 10%of all their customer service interactions relate to forgotten passwords. Jupiter warns that over the next 12 months, merchants and banks should focus on implementing online self-service options, such as challenge-response password retrieval, to reduce ongoing customer service expenses.

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