Reckless Personal Data Behaviour Is Putting Digital Identities At Risk.

A recent study by IDEX Biometrics ASA has revealed that consumers are prepared to share their personal information all too easily and in doing so leave their digital identities at risk of theft or fraud. Despite three-in-five (59%) consumers worrying about the security of their personal information, almost three quarters (73%) said they would be prepared to give up their name in exchange for a free coffee.

Whilst consumers express concerns regarding the security of personal information, their worries are evidently not translating into action. In fact, 71% of those surveyed admitted that they would give up their email address for a free drink or snack and an astonishing third (33%) would even be prepared to pass on their date of birth – obviously without understanding how such a small piece of information could be used by cybercriminals for malicious intent.

Consumers are struggling to understand the importance of even the most seemingly nominal pieces of information. Many incorrectly believe that those with unscrupulous intent would need, on average, 2.7 separate pieces of personal information to put their identity at risk. But, in fact, cybercriminals often only need one piece of personal information to reveal an individual’s data.

The research from IDEX Biometrics ASA also uncovered generational differences in attitudes towards how people value their identity. When questioned, 79% of millennials would give up their email address for a coffee, compared to 73% of baby boomers. Four-in-ten (42%) millennials would even give up their mobile phone number, with baby boomers (26%) being much more likely to keep that information a secret.

Whilst a careless attitude towards personal data could simply be put down to a lack of awareness, it is also likely due to a lack of faith in companies to protect our personal information. One-in-five respondents (21%) feel that there is no point protecting personal information in the digital age, believing that if a cybercriminal wants it, they will find it anyway.

By moving away from paper-based identity and towards digital identity methods, such as fingerprint biometric smart cards, citizens will be empowered to protect their own identity. Fingerprint biometrics are a method of identification that is virtually impossible to replicate and can therefore effectively reinstate consumer faith in data protection.

“UK consumers have spoken. They have emphasised that while they are keen to proactively protect their digital identity footprint, they still feel cybercrime is inevitable if a hacker wants it. Innovative methods to both prove and protect digital identities must be adopted to give consumers the assurances they need that their information will be protected. Only then will they be confident that cybercriminals will be prevented from exploiting their digital identities for financial gain,” comments David Orme, Senior Vice President of IDEX Biometrics ASA.

“Current ID cards, and the information on them, can be easily stolen and used fraudulently. Fingerprints are the perfect authenticator to guard against this theft. They are part of us and cannot be lent, stolen or copied. Meaning if a fingerprint biometric smart identity card is not in the hands of the rightful owner, it simply won’t work. This is no longer ‘futuristic’ technology. It has already been implemented by multiple countries across the world. The UK must act now.”

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