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Swivel Secure Research: Password Plague Puts US Businesses in Jeopardy

New research conducted by two factor authentication provider, Swivel Secure, today reveals a culture of carelessness amongst US business owners that is jeopardizing company security and inviting cyber crime.

The study*, which questioned 2,500 working Americans on their internet security habits, highlights how business-owners are taking insufficient steps to secure access to their workplace systems, setting a bad example to staff and dangerously exposing their company data as a result.

According to the research, nearly three-quarters (74.2%) of business owners keep a written log or have another offline system for recording their passwords. If more evidence of apathy at the top were needed, the study has also revealed that 63% of business owners continually re-use the same passwords to log in to different systems, yet 61% remain ‘unconcerned’ with the security of their corporate systems.

The study also suggests that this ambivalence has trickled down to influence the attitudes and behavior of employees. A staggering 73% of US full time workers admit to re-using the same batch of passwords online, with a third (33%) using less than five different passwords to access between 25 and 50 personal and business sites.

“A significant proportion of last year’s $46bn global spend on cyber security** will have been wasted as a direct consequence of password reuse,” comments Fraser Thomas, VP, International, Swivel Secure. “By continuing to rely on this outdated form of authentication, US business owners are undermining their investment in firewalls and other costly network security measures and leaving themselves dangerously exposed to cybercrime. Password reuse is rife. As a result, it may only take one employee’s Twitter or Amazon password to be hacked for unlawful and undetected access to their company systems to be gained.”

The study also suggests that diligence online appears to decrease with age. A huge 71% of 55-64 year olds are ‘unconcerned’ by the security of their work IT systems, compared with 47.1% of those aged between 25 and 34.

“For many, logging in with a username and password has become little more than a mechanical inconvenience,” continues Thomas. “Business owners must take responsibility for securing their systems at every level within their organizations. There are a wealth of flexible, easy to use and cost effective strong authentication platforms available which can be utilized to eradicate these risks.”

The Swivel authentication platform was first launched in 2003. It is now used by local government, the NHS, major global enterprises and smaller businesses in over 35 countries, to remotely access their business networks, virtual desktops and cloud-based applications. A strong alternative to usernames and passwords, the Swivel authentication platform offers the widest range of user deployment options according to Gartner, including mobile apps, SMS and interactive voice response channels.

* Independent survey of 2,500 US consumers conducted by The Leadership Factor in May 2014

** ABI Research

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