Cisco’s Duo Security Report Finds Biometric Authentications Surge During Pandemic

A report published from Cisco’s Duo Security, a multi-factor authentication (MFA) and secure access solution, confirms enterprises are taking steps to move away from passwords and adopting low-friction authentication methods to protect the hybrid workforce.

While the total number of Duo MFA authentications increased 39 percent in the past year, biometric authentications grew even faster at 48 percent.

The 2021 Duo Trusted Access Report analyzed data from more than 36 million devices, over 400,000 unique applications and roughly 800 million monthly authentications from across Duo’s global customer base. It revealed how organizations across all industries are enabling work from anywhere, on any device, by implementing controls to ensure secure access to applications.

Biometrics were enabled on more than 71 percent of Duo customer mobile phones, illustrating a rise in adoption driven by users’ growing acceptance of non-traditional authentication methods and the accessibility of passwordless hardware that they already carry in their pockets.

Further eliminating the need for users to retain a large cache of authentication passwords, Duo also saw a fivefold increase in Web Authentication (WebAuthn) usage since April 2019 when the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) first published the open standard. WebAuthn enables biometrics to be stored and validated locally on the device, as opposed to a centralized database.

Duo has been a champion of passwordless technology, driving WebAuthn’s ratification as a member of the W3C working group and launching its infrastructure agnostic passwordless authentication product in March 2021.

Moving away from passwords will improve the login experience for the vast majority of users – in turn leading to stronger security. More than half of organizations are planning to implement a passwordless strategy, according to the new survey of global IT decision makers conducted as part of the Trusted Access Report. Forty-six percent of respondents said security issues related to compromised credentials are the most frustrating or concerning aspect of dealing with passwords in their environment.

To download the report, visit