A recent study conducted by Deloitte highlights the usage of biometric security in the UK’s smartphone users.
In Deloitte’s sixth annual There’s no place like phone study, numerous notable digital trends and growths were unveiled.
Although 81% of the population have smartphones, only 27% have digital fingerprint sensors, of which 76% are used.
Smartphone usage had been rapidly expanding over the past nine years when the first full touchscreen smartphone was launched. Deloitte expects the rate of smartphone adoption to peak as the target market has been effectively saturated. The study, however, shows that even during a plateau of smartphone implementation, the way phones are being used is changing.
For instance, 31% of smartphone users make no voice calls during any given week. In 2015, only 25% made no voice calls. This contrasts with nearly every smartphone user making weekly phone calls in 2012.
Smartphone security is drastically changing though, despite many phone features being used less frequently. PIN codes (and passwords) still dominate the mobile security sector by a fairly significant margin. The most common smartphone unlocking method reported by users was the PIN code at 63%. Touch ID and similar fingerprint sensor mechanisms are the next most commonly used method at 21%.
Falling far behind PINs and fingerprints were voice recognition, facial recognition, and “I don’t know.” Interestingly, 30% of responders reported they used none of the above security methods, implying no security at all.
The report highlights that fingerprint usage is growing because of the simplicity when compared to typing in a password. Tapping a finger on a sensor is quicker, less subject to ambient conditions and more inconspicuous than typing passwords.
Fingerprints are the most popular biometric method for several reasons, the study notes. Scanning a fingerprint is both more accurate and less subject to external variables when compared to voice or facial recognition. The study explains that “voice recognition may not work when used in a noisy area and may be distracting when used in the company of friends or colleagues.” In addition to those considerations, there is a significant chance of security compromisation when using a voice. Voices can be easily recorded.
Facial recognition is similarly flawed. When scanning a face, the phone requires similar lighting conditions in relation to the reference images. Overly dark or light environments will often cause false negatives. In a particularly striking instance, Android’s facial recognition feature accepted a picture of the owner instead of a living person.
Deloitte explains future fingerprint growth:
We expect ownership of fingerprint readers to continue increasing rapidly. Many millions of people are likely to acquire a handset with a fingerprint reader over the coming year (either as a new or second-hand phone) and some people who currently have a fingerprint reader may start using it, as more apps offer this functionality.