Navigating the password jungle - Digital user authentication © Photo Credit: lassedesignen -

Navigating the password jungle - Digital user authentication

Consumers have a variety of options when it comes to digital user log-ins. They can use individualized passwords, single sign-on solutions, password managers or biometric methods. This research brief examines which authentication methods and solutions Internet users in Germany use and the role played by social logins from major platform providers.

Almost every day, internet users log-in to various digital services that require the creation of a user account - be it music or video streaming services, marketplaces, social networks or others. For authentication the majority of consumers continue to use a combination of an email address and an individually defined password.

However, as the number of services used by individual consumers increases, so does the challenge of adequately managing all user accounts and the corresponding credentials. Although technical solutions such as password managers or single sign-on services can help users to deal with the mass of passwords and mitigate security risks, consumers are still reluctant to use single sign-on solutions.

In particular, consumers express concerns about the security and reliability of social log-ins, the single sign-on services offered by major digital platform providers. However, content and service providers that implement social log-ins as well as the providers of social log-ins benefit from the use of this login procedure and the associated transfer of user information. Especially this transfer of data is considered to be problematic by consumers. Currently, only 13% of Internet users rely on social log-ins.

The study is available for download.