Industry News

Millennials, careless with passwords, spur shift to biometrics – study

A survey of 4,000 adults from the US, the Asia Pacific (APAC) and Europe indicates a new trend is afoot concerning authentication – particularly in the steps consumers take to safeguard their digital lives.

Examining consumer perspectives around digital identity and authentication, IBM Security found that people are beginning to prioritize security over convenience when logging into services and devices, easing the long-held belief that “convenience is king.”

Millennials and the Generation Z, described in the report as “younger adults,” are a bit careless about the strength of their passwords but are also more likely to entrust their digital identity to biometric locks, multifactor authentication and password managers.

“With millennials quickly becoming the largest generation in today’s workforce, these trends may impact how employers and technology companies provide access to devices and applications in the near future,” says the technology giant.

The report is lengthy and studded with numbers, making it a difficult read for some. To make it easier on the eyes, skim the key findings below:

  • While 67 percent are comfortable using biometric authentication today, 87 percent are confident they will join the party soon
  • 75 percent of millennials are comfortable using biometrics, less than half use complex passwords (those containing upper and lower case letters, special characters, etc.) and 41 percent reuse passwords
  • Older generations showed more care with password creation, but were less inclined to use biometrics and multifactor authentication
  • APAC users are more familiar with biometric authentication than consumers in the U.S.
  • The average American manages over 150 online accounts that require a password, and that number is expected to double in the coming years
  • For social media apps, convenience re-enters the spotlight (36 percent), followed by security (34 percent) and privacy (30 percent)
  • 44 percent ranked fingerprint biometrics as one of the most secure methods of authentication
  • 55 percent worry about how their biometric data is collected and used, and 50 percent fear others could fake their biometric data and break into their accounts
  • Those aged 55 and older use 12 passwords, while Gen Z (ages 18 – 20) averages only five passwords, suggesting they re-use them more
  • 75 percent of millennials are comfortable using biometrics, compared to just 58 percent of those over age 55
  • APAC users were also the most comfortable with biometrics today (78 percent comfortable vs. 65 percent EU, 57 percent US)
  • Europe has the strongest password practices, with 52 percent of respondents using strong passwords, vs. 46 percent in APAC and 41 percent in the US

Overall, the data indicates that younger generations are no longer fond of traditional passwords. IBM believes this poses a challenge for employers that manage millennial users’ access to data.

“As the percentage of millennial and Gen Z employees continues to grow in the workforce, organizations and businesses can adapt to younger generations’ proclivity for new technology by allowing for increased use of mobile devices as the primary authentication factor and integrating approaches that substitute biometric methods or tokens in place of passwords,” the report concludes.

About the author


Filip is an experienced writer with over a decade of practice in the technology realm. He has covered a wide range of topics in such industries as gaming, software, hardware and cyber-security, and has worked in various B2B and B2C marketing roles. Filip currently serves as Information Security Analyst with Bitdefender.