Research: Growing Global Acceptance Of Biometrics For Protecting Identities, Personal Information

With concerns growing over the incidence of bank card fraud and identity theft, a majority of people globally would accept biometric authentication to verify their identities, according to recent research from Unisys Corp.

Analyzing recent findings from the nine countries covered in the bi-annual Unisys Security Index, Unisys found that consumers remain most concerned about bank card fraud and identity theft – despite a general decrease in overall concerns about security threats. These two issues have ranked as the top overall consumer concerns globally since Unisys began compiling the Unisys Security Index worldwide in 2007.

These global concerns may have led to an increasing consumer acceptance of biometric technologies, such as fingerprint and eye (retinal) scans, versus more traditional methods of using passwords and PINs. Respondents in every country surveyed in the Unisys Security Index indicated a majority favored the use of advanced biometric methods.

In the UK, for example, 95 percent of those who said they would be willing to provide biometric data said they would be willing to provide fingerprint data; 90 percent said they would provide an eye scan; and 82 percent said they would agree to a facial scan. High acceptance rates for these types of biometrics were also reported in other countries.

“Consumers worldwide seem to be growing more comfortable with the idea of using advanced and sometimes unfamiliar technologies to secure their identities as a way to prevent fraud,” said Mark Cohn, vice president of enterprise security for Unisys. “Given the concern about bank fraud and identity theft, it is not surprising that people would embrace new ways to protect themselves. But we were somewhat surprised by the wide acceptance of biometrics such as iris recognition and facial scans, technologies which consumers were more familiar with than we might have predicted.”

The current global findings of the Unisys Security Index, which complement recently released country-specific results, show an average global score of 119, indicating moderate security fears overall. All four categories of security measured by the survey -- financial, national, Internet and personal safety -- registered the lowest recorded levels so far. The largest decline was in financial concerns, reflecting a general easing of economic concerns from the previous survey, taken at the height of the global credit crisis.

“This drop in concern may indicate a disconnect between consumers’ perceptions of threats and the more dire reality of the threats that exist in business and governments globally today,” Cohn said. “In some regions the general decrease may reflect a less panicked and more rational response to ongoing threats. But global trends indicate that these threats are growing and becoming more sophisticated.”

Bank card fraud and identity theft are growing issues worldwide. The National Identity Fraud Prevention 2008 survey found that ID fraud is one of the fastest growing crimes in Europe. In addition, this year’s British Crime Survey found that credit card fraud cost the UK £610million last year -- up by 43 per cent in just two years. In the U.S., the number of identity fraud victims increased 22 percent in 2008 to 9.9 million adults, according to Javelin Research and Strategy.

In most countries surveyed in the latest Unisys Security Index research, between one quarter and one half of adults around the world are seriously concerned about the ability of financial services providers and national or local governments to keep their personal information secure.


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