Using smart cards vs. passwords for identification

* Datamonitor survey suggests the majority of enterprises experience problems related to shared or stolen passwords

A recent Datamonitor survey showed that 62% of enterprises have experienced problems relating to passwords being shared, borrowed or stolen from within their organizations. The survey of 200 enterprises also found that only 21% of the respondents are confident that passwords will provide sufficient user authentication for their businesses over the next five years. Yet most of us are still using passwords. Isn't there a better way?

The study, “A new look at the ROI for enterprise smart cards”, was sponsored by ActivIdenity (I bet it got to suggest the title!), but was carried out under the scientific survey methodology that Datamonitor employs. More than 200 “decision makers” in organizations ranging from manufacturing to government to education to sales (almost all in Europe) were asked to identify the factors that may be changing their approach to deploying smart cards for logical and physical access. The analysis examines the case for consolidating different types of employee identification, identifies enterprises’ approach to passwords and outlines the perceived benefits of smart cards. In addition, the paper revisits prior Datamonitor research to examine how smart cards are being deployed in the enterprise today, assesses any changes to the factors influencing market conditions, and calculates a basic ROI with the findings from the primary research.

Among the key findings are the two I mentioned in the opening paragraph (62% report password problems, while only 21% think passwords are sufficient) plus:

* Close to 40 man hours per week would be saved by enterprises in the survey if their identification credentials were replaced by a smart card and single sign-on solution.

* Enterprises are generally operating different password systems for applications and databases, networks and workstations, representing an inefficient means of employee identification.

* 80% of respondents recognize that smart cards would provide benefits to their organizations.

* The majority of respondents believe that enterprises in their industry are moving towards a single ID for physical and logical access.

Get your own copy of the 30-page report and compare where you are relative to your peers. Glean the pro and con arguments for converged logical/physical access as well as the major benefits of moving to token-based hardware authentication in place of (or, perhaps, in addition to) username/password. And, while you’re at it, see some tangible numbers showing a realistic ROI on smart card technology. Yes, it’s a marketing piece. But even marketing pieces can be educational (Compare Identity Management products).

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Copyright © 2008 IDG Communications, Inc.

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