Mobile Phone Users Drive Consumerization of Workplace Biometrics

A new survey reveals user preferences in security biometrics.

Pam Baker

February 13, 2019

3 Min Read

For decades now, consumer technologies have led to the “consumerization” of everything in the enterprise space, most notably in bring your own devices (BYOD) programs. Consumer preferences are again poised to drive enterprise adoption rates, but this time in security technologies.

A new survey reveals consumer preferences in biometrics on phones that also carry over to the workplace. MSSPs might want to take note and use consumer patterns to drive user authentication adoption higher for their clients.

“The pace of mobile-device innovation is moving at lighting speed, and as a result, we’ve seen an uptick in the adoption of biometric technologies in consumer-facing apps,” said James Stickland, CEO of Veridium.

The Veridium survey found iPhone users (70 percent) are more prone to using biometrics than their Android-using counterparts (25 percent).  Sixty-three percent of phone biometric users prefer to use fingerprints, while 14 percent prefer facial recognition.

This may be due more to a matter of convenience since only one-half (50 percent) think fingerprints are more secure than facial recognition. The researchers found that “millennials (those under 35 years old) value speed (46 percent); Generation X (ages 35-55) values not having to remember passwords (44 percent); and,baby boomers (over 55) value security (30 percent) more than anything.”

Phone users, however, don’t trust that their biometric data is secure. Only 35 percent of survey respondents think their biometric data is being stored ethically, while 57 percent are unsure or neutral. This could be a major stumbling block to biometric adoption in the workplace. It’s vital for employers to be transparent about how personally identifiable information (PII) is being stored to overcome hesitancy in adoption, or avoidance tendencies.

There are additional generational differences in how respondents feel about using biometrics. Almost half (47 percent) of millennials prefer traditional passwords, while almost the same percentage (42 percent) of Gen Xers prefer biometrics. The preferred biometric authentication feature (42 percent) for Generation X is fingerprints. But baby boomers much prefer voice authentication (30 percent).

As to how and where respondents prefer to use biometric authentication:

  • Millennials most often use biometrics to access financial applications such as banking apps or ATMs (46 percent), and payments (45 percent).

  • Generation Xers prefer biometric authentication for travel apps (41 percent).

  • Baby boomers most often use it for healthc-are applications (28 percent).

“With biometric authentication becoming more mainstream, enterprises are well-positioned to introduce the technology to their employees to create a fast, secure and frictionless experience when logging into workplace networks and applications,” Stickland said.

MSSPs might want to use emerging consumer trends and sentiment surveys to guide their advice to clients on which biometrics to use, where to secure company facilities, apps and other assets. While generational differences revealed in such surveys should not lead to training biases or stereotyping, they can lend some useful insights in overcoming common user concerns and in leveraging individual user preferences.

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About the Author(s)

Pam Baker

A prolific writer and analyst, Pam Baker’s published work appears in many leading print and online publications including Security Boulevard, PCMag, Institutional Investor magazine, CIO, TechTarget, and InformationWeek, as well as many others. Her latest book is “Data Divination: Big Data Strategies.” She’s also a popular speaker at technology conferences as well as specialty conferences such as the Excellence in Journalism events and a medical research and healthcare event at the NY Academy of Sciences.

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