Users Seek Online Security, Shirk Cumbersome Passwords

Security and ease are still the name of the game when it comes to

online shopping, according to Jupiter Media Metrix Inc. Reports

released this week by Jupiter state that, while many users want

increased authentication measures, they also want fewer cumbersome

passwords.

While the number of Internet users surveyed by Jupiter who were willing

to register personal information with a Web site increased from 26

percent in 1999 to 47 percent in 2001, a majority of users still seek

added security. According to the research, 80 percent of Internet

consumers want enhanced online authentication measures, such as four-

digit personal identification numbers like those used at bank teller

machines. In fact, 49 percent of those surveyed said that they would be

willing to type in a four-digit number when making an online purchase.

Furthermore, an additional 32 percent are willing to enter a password

created by their credit card company, Jupiter said.

These added security measures do not mean that users want to complicate

their online shopping experience, though. Jupiter reported that 42

percent of the Internet consumers were annoyed at having to type in

different logins and passwords to access different sites. Some 22

percent of online consumers between the ages of 18 and 24 wanted a

simplified login process, while 42 percent of respondents age 55 and

wanted the same, Jupiter reported.

The researcher noted that catering to the needs of these older

consumers will be an important strategy for sites, as these older users

are expected to be the fast-growing online group over the next five

years.

Password reminders are one way to make things easier for users, Jupiter

suggested, adding that only 35 percent of the online businesses it

surveyed allow users to create password reminders to assist them in

remembering their log-ins.

While Jupiter did not put forth an answer to the problem of multiple

passwords and log-ins, a handful of companies have already begun

working on the issue. Microsoft Corp.'s Passport authentication service

is one of the more notable attempts to solve the problem of multiple

passwords. Passport allows users to access a variety of sites with a

single login. The service has come under some fire, however, by critics

who fear that the software mammoth will use Passport as a means to

collect personal information. Microsoft vehemently denies these

allegations, saying that Passport was only created as a consumer

service.

It remains to be seen if any effort to streamline Internet

authentication comes under the same scrutiny by those who fear too much

information winding up in one set of hands.

Next Week: Brian Hatch, co-author of Hacking Linux Exposed: Network

Security Secrets and Solutions, takes the helm and shares

his valuable experience and insights.

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