Users say they’d prefer Face ID to passwords, survey suggests

Users say they’d prefer Face ID to passwords, survey suggests

Respondents choose facial recognition over passwords, even before trying the technology, survey by Israeli startup developing Face ID shows

Apple's iPhone X with facial recognition (Courtesy)
Apple's iPhone X with facial recognition (Courtesy)

Passwords may be going the way of the floppy disk, and our faces may be the next key to our data security, according to a recent survey conducted by an Israeli cyber-security startup, Secret Double Octopus.

A new survey on the future of phone and device security, published Tuesday, shows a wide degree of optimism for face-recognition technology. Face ID, as it is called, is a major new feature of the set-to-launch in the iPhone X, and is being primed by some to replace fingerprint and password access technology in the near future.

The survey, conducted online by Secret Double Octopus , asked 522 employees, aged 25-64, working at businesses with at least 1000 employees in the US to tell them what they really thought about the various authentication methods available.

“We initiated this survey because we wanted to look past the hype to really understand what people think about the authentication methods they are required to navigate daily — anything from passwords, tokens and SMS to Touch ID,” said Secret Double Octopus CEO, Raz Rafaeli, in a statement.

The survey was published as part of a broader report on data security and authentication methods called “Facing a Future without Passwords”.

“We also wanted to know what people are expecting from new authentication alternatives, specifically Face ID,” he said.

Founded in 2015, the Be’er Sheva-based startup says it has developed the world’s only password-free, keyless authentication technology, “to protect identity and data across cloud, mobile and IoT environments”, using the same kind of authentication methods used to guarantee the safety of nuclear launch codes. With nuclear weapons, typically, different people have just a piece of the full launch codes, and, before a launch, all of these pieces must fit correctly together. Secret Double Octopus says its technology essentially reproduces the same authentication mechanism.

In January, the company said it raised $6 million in Series A funding, including from VC fund Jerusalem Venture Partners, Israel Venture Fund and Benhamou Global Ventures.

Its core team includes a mix of academics and IT executives, including Ben Gurion University of the Negev professor Shlomi Dolev, and Shimrit Tzur-David, who holds a PhD in Computer Science from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

Secret Double Octopus’ survey results said that 81 percent of respondents said Face ID was “trustworthy” — with 70 percent going as far as to say it was ‘extremely or very trustworthy’ — and 91 percent “think it will be easy to use.”

More than 70 percent said they would choose Face ID over passwords if they had a choice, with 70% categorizing Face ID as ‘extremely or very trustworthy’ — even if they had never used this technology or tried it out. This could indicate that respondents are eager to break free of old-school password technology, the statement said.

Among technologies currently in widespread use, Touch ID was ranked the highest by the respondents of the survey, based on three key parameters: ease of use, trust and preference.

The Facing a Future without Passwords report showed that worryingly, besides being unpopular, passwords lead to a breakdown of security culture, and that many employees “are not adhering to even the most basic of protections, and are exposing themselves and their organizations to increased chances for malicious activity,” the statement said.

The survey revealed that more than 80% of respondents had to change their passwords every four months or less. And nearly one in four employees said they use paper notes to keep track of passwords, while one in five use work-related passwords for online activities unrelated to work.  Fourteen percent of respondents said that they have shared their work-related passwords, with colleagues or other people.

Face ID could be used both as a second-factor authentication measure, said Rafaeli, “as well as a way to replace passwords altogether, because that is where we are headed.”

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