With concerns growing over the incidence of bank card fraud and identity theft, a majority of people globally would accept biometric authentication to verify their identities, according to recent research from Unisys Corporation (NYSE:UIS).
Analyzing recent findings from the nine countries covered in the bi-annual Unisys Security Index, Unisys found that consumers remain most concerned about bank card fraud and identity theft - despite a general decrease in overall concerns about security threats. These two issues have ranked as the top overall consumer concerns globally since Unisys began compiling the Unisys Security Index worldwide in 2007.
These global concerns may have led to an increasing consumer acceptance of biometric technologies, such as fingerprint and eye (retinal) scans, versus more traditional methods of using passwords and PINs. Respondents in every country surveyed in the Unisys Security Index indicated a majority favored the use of advanced biometric methods.
In the UK, for example, 95% of those who said they would be willing to provide biometric data said they would be willing to provide fingerprint data; 90% said they would provide an eye scan; and 82% said they would agree to a facial scan. High acceptance rates for these types of biometrics were also reported in other countries.
"Consumers worldwide seem to be growing more comfortable with the idea of using advanced and sometimes unfamiliar technologies to secure their identities as a way to prevent fraud," said Mark Cohn, vice president, enterprise security, Unisys. "Given the concern about bank fraud and identity theft, it is not surprising that people would embrace new ways to protect themselves. But we were somewhat surprised by the wide acceptance of biometrics such as iris recognition and facial scans, technologies which consumers were more familiar with than we might have predicted."
The current global findings of the Unisys Security Index, which complement recently released country-specific results, show an average global score of 119, indicating moderate security fears overall. All four categories of security measured by the survey - financial, national, Internet and personal safety - registered the lowest recorded levels so far. The largest decline was in financial concerns, reflecting a general easing of economic concerns from the previous survey, taken at the height of the global credit crisis.
"This drop in concern may indicate a disconnect between consumers' perceptions of threats and the more dire reality of the threats that exist in business and governments globally today," said Cohn. "In some regions the general decrease may reflect a less panicked and more rational response to ongoing threats. But global trends indicate that these threats are growing and becoming more sophisticated."
Bank card fraud and identity theft are growing issues worldwide. The National Identity Fraud Prevention 2008 survey found that ID fraud is one of the fastest growing crimes in Europe. In addition, this year's British Crime Survey found that credit card fraud cost the UK £610million last year - up by 43 per cent in just two years. In the U.S., the number of identity fraud victims increased 22 percent in 2008 to 9.9 million adults, according to Javelin Research and Strategy.
In most countries surveyed in the latest Unisys Security Index research, between one quarter and one half of adults around the world are seriously concerned about the ability of financial services providers and national or local governments to keep their personal information secure.
Global Results from the latest Unisys Security Index
The Unisys Security Index is a biannual global study of consumer opinion on four areas of security: financial, national, Internet and personal safety. The results are tallied on a scale of 0-300, with 300 representing the highest level of perceived concern. Nearly 8,300 consumers in the Asia-Pacific region, Brazil, Europe and the U.S. responded to the latest survey conducted in September, 2009. Each survey also includes supplemental research on a security niche topic such as current attitudes towards biometric devices and the security of personal information.
While consumers overall are more worried about identity theft, and more willing to use biometric technologies, there are key variations from region to region:
- Consumers in Spain, Brazil, Australia and New Zealand place greater faith in financial institutions to keep personal information safe and secure while adults in the U.S., Germany and the Netherlands place greater faith in governments to do this.
- Brazil, Spain, Germany and the U.S. top the list of countries with significant concerns about bank card fraud. Belgium and the Netherlands are the two countries with the least concern about financial issues such as bank fraud.
- For all biometric authentication schemes (hand scan, voice print, photo ID, facial scan, eye scan, PIN, password, and fingerprinting), Belgium and the UK consistently showed the greatest levels of acceptance. New Zealand and Brazil are consistently the bottom two countries for general acceptance, indicating a need for greater effort for organizations deploying biometric authentication solutions in these countries.
- Of consumers who said they would provide biometric data, those in Belgium showed the strongest acceptance for fingerprint scans as a trusted identification method, at 96%. Brazil was the country with the lowest acceptance rate of fingerprints at 79%. In every country surveyed, these consumers were substantially more receptive to using a fingerprint instead of a personal password as a means of identification.
"In many countries, levels of consumers' acceptance of new forms of identity management appear to be higher than what might be expected," Cohn said. "These results indicate that some governments and financial institutions should ‘catch up' with consumers and implement these solutions at a faster rate."
Additionally, the research shows that:
- Overall levels of security concern dropped for all surveyed countries except for Australia, which increased eight points, and the U.S., which maintained its score of 147 points. The increase in Australia was driven by a 15 point increase in concerns about internet security.
- The country with the highest index level of concern was Brazil, with an index rating of 153. The Netherlands had the lowest score with a score of 66.
- The Netherlands and Belgium traditionally have had the lowest Unisys Security Index scores across every category.