Consumers trust biometrics for data protection

More than two-thirds (67 percent) of consumers surveyed around the world trust fingerprint scans to verify their identities with banks, government agencies and other organizations, according to new research conducted by Unisys Corporation. In fact, only personal passwords rank higher as the preferred identification method, and by a mere 1 percent more than fingerprint scans.

Additional results of Unisys biometric survey show that:

  • Fingerprint scans rank far higher in consumer trust than lesser known biometric solutions such as facial scans (44 percent of consumers said they are comfortable with this method) and scan of blood vessels in the hand (38 percent).
  • Consumers in Malaysia, Australia and the U.K. are the most accepting of all biometric methods studied in the research. Consumers in these three countries are also more accepting of identification methods that are generally unpopular in other parts of the world.
  • Hong Kong residents distrust many methods of authentication, including PINs and personal passwords, but are most accepting of fingerprints as an authentication method.

The biometrics survey was conducted alongside the latest installment of the Unisys Security Index, which also found that bank card fraud and identity theft remain top concerns by the majority of consumers worldwide. Worry about the fraudulent use of credit or debit cards ranked the number one or two highest concern in 11 of 13 countries surveyed. Identity theft ranked as first or second highest concern in ten countries.

The Unisys Security Index is a biannual study that gauges consumers’ views about key security issues. More than 12,000 people around the world respond to questions relating to four areas of security: financial, national, Internet and personal safety. The results are tallied on a scale from 0-300, with 300 representing the highest level of perceived concern. Each survey also includes supplemental research on a security niche topic such as the current data on biometric authentication methods.

The average global score for the current Unisys Security Index was 130, indicating moderate security fears overall across the world. The score, however, also masks some interesting geographic differences and higher concerns in specific geographic areas. For example, regionally, the Index points to Brazil, Hong Kong, and Malaysia as areas where consumers express the most anxiety about specific security topics, while four European Union countries — the Netherlands, France, Belgium and Italy — all show lower security concerns overall.

Additional results include:

  • Brazil and Hong Kong residents are the most concerned about security issues, at 182 and 178 respectively, which is more than double the fears in the Netherlands (at 87).
  • Spain shows the most dramatic increase in security concern from the August 2007 baseline global survey, rising 23 points overall.
  • The largest change from the baseline global survey was in Belgium where lower consumer concerns saw a drop in 35 points. The Unisys Security Index in Australia fell 32 points.
  • Residents in France and the Netherlands have very low fears about their personal safety, ranking only 38 and 37 respectively for this area in the Index.
  • Germans are most concerned with ID theft, surpassing Hong Kong (second-highest) by a single point. ID theft is of least concern in Italy.
  • France is the least concerned about the ability to meet financial obligations, while Hong Kong is the most concerned.
  • Internet security remains a lower fear overall as compared to other areas studied; however, 4 out of 6 European countries polled showed an increase in concern compared to prior studies.
  • Perhaps not surprisingly given memories of the SARS outbreak, Hong Kong consumers have very high concern about epidemics; however, Brazilians also rank their concern higher here.

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