Preference for digital outweighs cyber security concerns, says IBM report

More than half (51 per cent) of millennials would rather place an order using a potentially insecure app or website rather than visit a location in person post-Pandemic, according to a new survey of digital behaviours and cybersecurity conducted by IBM.

A global survey of 22,000 consumers in 22 markets also found that on average individuals created 15 new online accounts during the pandemic, with 44 per cent saying they do not plan to delete or deactivate following the pandemic - which IBM suggested would greatly expand the attack surface for cyber criminals.

With society becoming increasingly accustomed to digital-first interactions, the study found that preferences for convenience often outweighed security and privacy concerns amongst individuals surveyed – leading to poor choices around passwords and other cybersecurity behaviors that could leave consumers vulnerable to a range of risks including ransomware to data theft.

In addition, as younger users more likely to overlook security concerns for the convenience of digital ordering, the burden of security will likely fall more heavily on companies providing these services to avoid fraud, according to IBM’s analysis of the findings.

The survey also found that the surge in digital account creation during the pandemic has led to ‘password fatigue’ with 82 per cent of respondents admitting to reusing credentials at least some of the time.

This means that many of the new accounts created during the pandemic likely relied on reused email and password combinations, which may have already been exposed via data breaches over the past decade, IBM said.

According to the survey, most adults (59 per cent) expect to spend less than 5 minutes setting up a new digital account, while respondents would attempt 3-4 logins before resetting their password.

A total of 44 per cent of respondents store online account information in their memory (most common method,) while 32 per cent write this information on paper.

According to IBM Security X-Force, bad personal security habits may also carry over to the workplace and can lead to costly security incidents for companies, with compromised user credentials representing one of the top root sources of cyberattacks reported in 2020

Charles Henderson, global managing partner and head of IBM Security X-Force, said: “The pandemic led to a surge in new online accounts, but society’s growing preference for digital convenience may come at a cost to security and data privacy.

“Organizations must now consider the effects of this digital dependence on their security risk profile. With passwords becoming less and less reliable, one way that organizations can adapt, beyond multi-factor authentication, is shifting to a ‘zero trust’ approach – applying advanced AI and analytics throughout the process to spot potential threats, rather than assuming a user is trusted after authentication."

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