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Password predicaments

Oct. 20, 2014
Could you ever imagine that something as simple – and as vital – as creating and maintaining secure passwords to access computer systems, smart phones, plus other digital devices could be costing you in terms of employee productivity?
Could you ever imagine that something as simple – and as vital – as creating and maintaining secure passwords to access computer systems, smart phones, plus other digital devices could be costing you in terms of employee productivity?

Apparently, according to a new survey of 1,000 workers in North America alongside another 1,000 in the United Kingdom, companies lose upwards of $420 of productivity annually per employee due to workers grappling with passwords – a loss equivalent to giving each employee two new iPhone 6’s every year.

For a company with 500 staffers, the loss is equivalent to nearly $210,000 per year in productivity, according to the data analyzed by polling firm Widmeyer on behalf of survey sponsor Centrify Corp.

Trucking, of course, is relying more and more on digital connectivity so this is something fleet managers might want to think about.

For example, Centify’s survey also found that nearly one-third of sampled workers enter more than 4,000 passwords a year while accessing a variety applications – wasting about 24 hours annually in the process. And while half of the respondents wrongly believe they have five or fewer online profiles, 37% actually create more than 50 new account profiles annually.

What’s more, poor password habits put employers at risk. For instance, nearly half of those polled said they use their personal devices for business purposes (truck drivers using their smartphones while on the road fits this category to a ‘T’) yet more than one-in-three do not use passwords on those devices – even though many keep office e-mail, confidential documents, customer contact info, and budget information on them.

Such findings underscore a real need for a better approach to passwords, stressed Centrify CEO Tom Kemp (seen at right) in the survey, begging a very improtant question to his mind: Can companies afford the double-whammy of security risk alongside the gouge in productivity?

“I think most would agree that passwords are broken, but it’s shocking when you quantify the magnitude of what passwords are costing organizations from both an efficiency and effectivity standpoint,” he pointed out.

“This underscores a demand for a better approach, whether that’s unified identity management with benefits like single sign-on and multi-factor identification for corporations, or new types of encryption systems for public websites,” Kemp said.

Here are some other findings from Centrify’s poll:

  • While 53% of those workers sampled say it’s completely their responsibility to keep the work data on their personal device safe, more than one third (38%) still don’t use passwords to protect their devices.
  • People have very little faith in the absolute security of their passwords, as only 12% of respondents believe their passwords are very secure.
  • People find forgetting passwords more annoying than misplaced keys, dead cell phone batteries and spam email.

On top of that, when asked how they remember account profile passwords, respondents confessed to the following top three password no-no’s:

  • One in four admit to the cardinal sin of using the same password whenever possible
  • Keeping a hand-written master book of passwords (29%)
  • Rotating through a variety of similar passwords (30%)

Now, Centrify’s Kemp believe the solution to all of this is to do away with passwords altogether and move to a different style of encryption technology. That may be easier or harder to accomplish than it sounds, especially when it comes to the fluid nature of the trucking business, with drivers coming and going between carriers at a rapid clip.

Yet it is a facet of digital security trucking firms can’t afford to ignore, nor will it go away.

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