Onfido is Working with the World Economic Forum on our Passwordless Future

January 23, 2020 Paul Jarratt

Cybercrime is set to cost the global economy $2.9 million every minute in 2020.

80% of these attacks are password-related, according to a whitepaper issued this week by the World Economic Forum.

The whitepaper entitled: Passwordless Authentication: The next breakthrough in secure digital transformation, which Onfido contributed to, was issued to coincide with Davos and highlights the importance of authentication in digital transformation, including introducing a framework for the future of authentication systems. The report presents five key passwordless technologies, including biometrics, behavioural analytics, zero-knowledge proofs, QR codes and security keys.

Passwords were once one of our most trusted security measures, but over the past decade, the average person’s digital footprint has been exposed to increasing numbers of third parties. Now the average consumer manages over 191 pairs of usernames and passwords. As a result, it’s almost guaranteed that people reuse the same passwords or tactics to authenticate across various services. The vast majority of data breaches stem from weak or stolen authentication credentials, as outlined by our Director of Policy, Parker Crockford in a recent WEF Agenda blog post.

There’s been lots of talk about a passwordless future. So why does the WEF think the time for passwordless is now. Here are some of the key reasons:

  • Higher revenues from employee productivity and customer ratings

    • Employees worldwide spend an average of 11 hours each year entering or resetting their password. For a company of 15,000 employees, on average, this represents a direct productivity loss of $5.2 million. 

  • Lower costs in case of data breach

    • 80% of all data breaches involve weak or stolen passwords, and 29% of all attacks leverage the latter. The average global cost of a data breach in 2019 was $3.92 million–a 1.5% increase from the year before. 

  • Password reset overhead savings

    • When it comes to IT departments and call centres, companies spend on average 2.5 months resetting internal passwords. 20% to 50% of all calls to the IT helpdesk concern password resets, and the estimated cost of a single reset ranges from $30 to $70.

  • Better user experience 

    • 86% of customers are indeed ready to pay a premium for a more user-friendly experience.

  • Interoperability unlocks value 

    • Interoperability is made possible by standards. The FIDO Alliance, an open industry association and a prominent passwordless advocate, has created open standards for passwordless authentication to online and mobile services. Its most prevalent standard, FIDO2, was developed with the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) and became a web standard in March 2019. 

  • Fewer passwords, greater security 

    • When companies transition to passwordless solutions, they considerably reduce their exposure to data breaches. 

Onfido will continue to work with the World Economic Forum, FIDO Alliance and DID Alliance to progress the passwordless future and help create technology and regulatory standards that will reduce our reliance on passwords. To get involved, global enterprises and public bodies can engage in this important strategic issue via the Forum’s Platform for Shaping the Future of Cybersecurity and Digital Trust or join the Identity Verification and Binding Working Group

Read the complete whitepaper here.

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