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Employees caught in two minds about the passwordless workplace

Written by Tue 18 Jun 2019

Organizations must demonstrate they can be trusted with employee biometric data if passwordless methods are to penetrate the workplace

Workers are ready to ditch passwords and embrace passwordless security methods such as biometrics, but do not trust their employers to protect their data, according to research released today by Okta.

The Identity-as-a-Service company, which boasts hundreds of millions of users worldwide, surveyed 4,000 workers in the UK, France and Netherlands, to assess employees’ willingness to embrace passwordless methods such as biometrics.

The overwhelming majority of respondents (70 percent) said passwordless measures would benefit the workplace, citing the simplification of day-to-day-lives and reduced stress that would come with not having to remember numerous passwords. Unsurprisingly the younger generation, specifically 18-34 year olds, are the keenest to adopt the measures.

Despite employee enthusiasm towards passwordless access, the survey also showed that workers do not trust organizations to protect their data. 86 percent of respondents admitted they would be reluctant to share biometric data with their employers.

Speaking at Okta Forum in London Tuesday, Todd McKinnon, CEO and co-founder of Okta, said the lack of trust reflected a broader shift in attitudes towards large technology companies regarding issues of data privacy.

“The tremendous potential of technology is not without its issues and risks, issues and risks that are leading to an erosion of trust. As a technology companies, trust is the next frontier for us, and trust starts with identity.”

McKinnon said passwords are “ineffective”, have “failed” as an authentication factor, and that organizations should look to embrace passwordless methods.

“In 2019, we will see the first wave of organizations going completely passwordless and Okta’s customers will be at the forefront,” he said.

When was asked if Okta was readily encouraging its enterprise customers to adopt biometrics, Jesper Frederiksen, Okta GM for EMEA, said the company would never dictate another firm’s security practices.

“It’s the customer’s decision if what they want is usernames and passwords with two-factor authentication on the mobile device and it’s their choice if they want Face ID,” he said.

Passwordless access methods refer to the use of biometrics and machine learning to authenticate identity, instead of traditional username and password combinations.

Biometric authentication, including retinal, face and fingerprint scanning, is not a new security practice and is default on most smartphones, but passwordless methods have taken time to gain traction in the enterprise due to high prices, data management concerns, and employee pushback.

Written by Tue 18 Jun 2019


cyber security identity and access management okta
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