ThreatMetrix US Patents Press Releases

Online Consumers React to Device Identification Technology as Fraud Prevention Tool

Posted September 15, 2009

Ponemon Institute Says Consumers Overwhelmingly Prefer Sharing Device Information to Personal Data

LOS ALTOS, CA – September 15, 2009 – Internet users are willing to let trusted online vendors profile their computers if it means increased security and reduced need to share personal information according to research announced today by Ponemon Institute and sponsored by ThreatMetrix, the leading device identification software company. In its report, Online Consumers’ Reaction to Device Fingerprinting (September 2, 2009), the Ponemon Institute found that 78% of users surveyed believe that online merchants, banks and social networks should use technology, such as a “cookie” or other invisible software, to protect consumers’ identity while only 21% want online vendors to require more personal data from the consumers themselves

Privacy remains a primary concern of Internet users but wary consumers seem increasingly willing to bend on this issue if it means better protection from fraud. According to the more than 500 Internet users surveyed, 80% are concerned about becoming an online fraud victim and 83% believe online vendors should increase efforts to prevent fraudsters from stealing consumers’ personal information. Furthermore, nearly 70% of respondents said they’d be willing to have their computers authenticated by an online merchant before purchases are completed and 75% of those surveyed said that computer authentication is preferred because it’s more convenient than remembering passwords or answering pre-selected questions.

More Research Findings

  • Among survey responders who expressed concern over the use of device identification, 33% said they are worried that their personal information would be disclosed to other online businesses and services.
  • Another 12% of respondents are concerned about merchants misusing or abusing the device authentication data themselves.
  • A full 55% of those indicating concern noted they’d rather use passwords to prove their identities.
  • Finally, 61% of total users surveyed said they’d expect to be notified if an online merchant was unable to match their computer’s device fingerprint to a security system and 83% said they’d expect the online merchant to provide alternative methods of verification if device identification proved ineffective

“Given the negative attention to and connotations of cookies and similar types of tracking software, we were surprised to find that an overwhelming majority of consumers surveyed were comfortable with the idea of having their computers profiled in order to be identified by online vendors,” said Dr. Larry Ponemon, chairman and founder, Ponemon Institute. “However, the finding is consistent with the value consumers place on convenience and their desire to have a more secure, trusted transactional experience online.”

“What this research says to me is that it’s incumbent upon online vendors to be upfront and clear with consumers about what they’re doing to protect them and how the device data being gathered will be used,” said Reed Taussig, president and CEO at ThreatMetrix. “It’s also important to note that device identification software is a new and important tool in the ongoing fight against cybercrime. There are many valuable techniques for combating online fraud but the key benefit of device identification is that it protects Internet users without increasing their burdens. Rather than slow down the transaction process by insisting that consumers provide more personal information or remember additional passwords, device identification software can profile a user’s computer and deliver highly credible authentication in an instant. This is great news for consumers and the online businesses that serve them.”

The total sample size for the Ponemon Institute report was 551 adult-aged Internet users located in the United States. Among those polled, shopping, search, email and social networks were among the online activities performed most in a typical week. 43% of respondents have been the victim of online fraud and 30% of those said the consequences included fraudulent charges to their credit cards and/or theft of financial assets such as money stolen from checking or savings accounts. The web-based Ponemon Institute survey closed on August 28, 2009.

The complete Ponemon report and white paper can viewed at:

About ThreatMetrix

ThreatMetrix ( helps companies control online fraud and abuse in real time so they can acquire more customers faster, reduce costs, and increase customer satisfaction. ThreatMetrix profiles the device used in an online transaction so companies can determine whether the users are fraudsters or customers. ThreatMetrix’ simple and cost-effective approach to implementation – SaaS or on-premise – enables companies to get results in hours or days, rather than weeks or months. ThreatMetrix serves a rapidly growing customer base in the U.S. and around the world across a variety of industries including online retail, financial, social networks, and alternative payments.

Media Contact:
Kevin Wolf

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