Biometric devices recommended to curb identity theft

Consumers are pointing to themselves as the greatest threat to secure online financial services. A recent survey by global consulting firm Accenture reveals that 88 percent of respondents believe that personal irresponsibility is the top cause of identity theft. Further, nearly half of respondents admit to being careless with their online security by sharing or not properly disposing of personal information.

Accenture surveyed 800 U.S. and U.K. consumers who use broadband or high-speed Internet connections at home. One strategy that Accenture recommends to counter users' lax attitudes toward security is the adoption of biometric solutions. Specifically, the firm recommends fingerprint readers to ensure the security of online transactions.

With the use of solutions such as fingerprint readers, "The human problem is alleviated because, unlike passwords, a fingerprint biometric cannot be readily shared, lost or stolen," explains Rob Blau, VP of development for UPEK, a fingerprint sensor vendor. "The technology largely removes the human elements of credential management by shifting the burden to technology without sacrificing usability."

Vendors such as UPEK are battling barriers to biometric adoption, including a lack of consumer awareness of the benefits of biometrics and the cost to financial services companies to deploy and support fingerprint scanners. According to Blau, however, the attach rate of fingerprint scanners for notebook computers and mobile phones is increasing, and the cost of deploying the technology is expected to subside.