A new study from FICO found a large percentage of Americans currently do not take the necessary steps to protect their passwords and logins online.
As consumers reliance on online services grows in response to COVID-19, the study examined the steps Americans are taking to protect their financial information online, as well as attitudes towards increased digital services and alternative security options such as behavioral biometrics.
The study found that a large percentage of Americans are not taking the necessary precautions to secure their information online. For example, only 42 percent are using separate passwords to access multiple accounts; 17 percent of respondents have between two to five passwords they reuse across accounts; and four percent use a single password across all accounts. Additionally, less than a quarter (23 percent) of respondents use an encrypted password manager which many consider best practice; 30 percent are using high-risk strategies such as writing their passwords down in a notebook.
"We're seeing more cyber criminals targeting consumers with COVID-19 related phishing and social engineering," said Liz Lasher, vice president of fraud portfolio marketing at FICO. "Because of the current situation, many consumers are only able to access their finances digitally, so it's vital to remain vigilant against such scams and take the right precautions to protect themselves digitally."
The study shows that consumers struggle with maintaining their current passwords as 28 percent reported abandoning an online purchase because they forgot login information, and 26 percent reported being unable to check an account balance. Forgotten usernames and passwords even affect new account openings, 13 percent said that it has stopped them from opening a new account with an existing provider.
The study says this is a notable trend as consumers are more willing than ever to do business digitally. The study found that the majority of respondents would open a checking (52 percent) or mobile phone (64 percent) account online, while an overwhelming majority of respondents (82 percent) said they would open a credit card account online.
However, while there is significant room to improve how consumers protect their login credentials, the survey also found that Americans are becoming more trusting of using physical and behavioral biometrics to secure their financial accounts. The survey found that 78 percent of respondents said they would be happy for their bank to analyze behavioral biometrics - such as how you type - for security and 65 percent are happy to provide biometrics to their bank; while 60 percent are open to using fingerprint scans to secure their accounts.
Additionally, when logging into their mobile banking apps, respondents are now considering alternative security measures beyond the traditional username and password. The five most widely used security alternatives are:
One-time passcode via SMS (53 percent)
One-time passcode via email (43 percent)
Fingerprint scan (39 percent)
Facial Scan (24 percent)
One-time passcode delivered and spoken to mobile phone (23 percent)
"Digital services are currently playing a critical role in daily life. It is a good time to evaluate how we protect ourselves and our information online," said Lasher. "Customers have been happy to adopt security such as one-time passcodes, and are now showing that they are willing to adopt additional options, such as biometrics, to protect their accounts. There are no magic bullets and the ability to layer and deploy multiple authentication methods appropriate to each occasion is key. Financial services organizations and consumers need to continue to keep security best practices top of mind to help combat fraudsters now and in the future."