ESG's Mark Bowker discusses the changing trends for usernames and password with James Stickland of Veridium.
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Mark: James, thanks very much for joining us this morning. I really appreciate kind of given the time, you taking the time out of your day. One of the things that we saw when we do our annual digital work research is that username passwords continue to be a massive problem. How big of a change you've really seen today, versus what you saw maybe three months ago?
James: We've certainly seen a huge acceleration in the desire to want to remove passwords. Now, imagine pre-pandemic, most enterprises maybe had 10% or 15% of their workforce working remotely. Now we've got 100% of employee bases now working remotely. That puts a huge pressure on the IT help desk.
You know, now we've got multiple passwords for logging in to virtual private networks, for desktop experiences, and we've also got the sort of sensitivity around, you know, is the home working environment safe enough? So, adding passwords to that becomes incredibly problematic, and incredibly expensive. So we've certainly seen a huge acceleration, 500% more, in terms of our engagement with our customers, where people have been really keen to eradicate the passwords in their entirety, and replace them with biometrics as an identity credential that tethers us to the activity.
Mark: When we asked in that same digital work research, one of the things that employees asked for most just to improve their work environment is just, "Hey, I need less username passwords." And just think about the process. Nevermind today work from home. What if I've lost, forgotten, going into a system I haven't been into a while? So this whole idea of kind of that, you know, passwordless, or a kind of authenticate once was interesting before, but I've got to believe, kind of, really, it's going to accelerate significantly, kind of over the next three to six months for sure.
James: Yeah, and we're working with a large number of Fortune 500, Fortune 100 companies that have had a passwordless environment as a nice-to-have for a 2020 roadmap, and now it's a must-have. You know, and we're kind of operating at a breakneck speed to try and help these customers onboard, you know, take away that pressure with, because, as we know, because this is a global pandemic, how do we even support those offshore help centers anymore, right?
And if they can't get to the office as well, you know, you create another weak point on a password. Passwords continue to remain a real weak point in the security posture, and just a really bad user experience, to your point, you know. On average, 8 to 10 passwords per individual, you know, kind of replicate that out in terms of managing that ecosystem. It, you know, it's untenable.
Mark: It's more potential to, I'll say, target, for somebody doing bad things for those username and passwords. Last really quick question for you, I'm just curious, when you see the end user experience, kind of, what's the feedback there? I mean, some of us are used to seeing kind of that passwordless experience, or at least biometrics, on our consumer side of things.
When you see that happen in the enterprise, what are you seeing some of the, kind of, employee reaction be?
James: Look, it's wildly positive. You know, over the last five years, we've all started utilizing native biometrics to log into our retail banking apps, or our Netflix account, and it's just become part of our everyday existence. You know, as ever, the end user world, the sort of consumer world is now being brought into the enterprise, which has happened with the BYOD experience, you know, five, seven years ago.
We're seeing exactly the same with biometrics. It's really eye-opening, the value and the positivity that we get around it. We're obviously being incredibly sensitive about management of the biometric data, because...
Mark: Of course.
James: ...there are clearly concerns about who stores, where it stores, and the policy around that. But yeah, on the whole, everybody is wildly positive about using biometrics.
Mark: No, it's perfect. No, and I appreciate you kind of filling us in with everything. I think it's going to be interesting. Let's stay checked in. Let's kind of continue to do this, and, you know, it would be interesting. Let's see what people, how they, you know, have adjusted and kind of responded today, to COVID-19, and then, what may stick, right? How they may kind of look and rebuild, and kind of really plan for how that business is going to rebound back once people get back to more of a normality of their lives, so.
Thanks very much, James. I appreciate you taking the time.
James: Thanks, Mark. I appreciate it. Stay safe.