Biometrics and the Evolution of the ‘Insured Internet’

LAS VEGAS — At Money 2020—a global event surrounding really everything involving money currently happening in the one and only Las Vegas—one of the topics on everyone’s minds is definitely security, specifically of the digital kind.

At this point we know the stats: hackers, fraudsters, and literal-minded smart contract readers have made top-notch online security a must for any business that wants to handle money in any form. Statistics also show that the most common form of authentication—the password—has been woefully inadequate when it comes to actually, well, authenticating.

This is where biometrics come in—as one might have seen at Finovate, companies are now attempting to leverage technologies like facial, finger, and voice recognition to better secure client data. Companies like Jumio, a leader in digital ID verification, which just announced at Money20/20 that it is adding in biometric facial recognition capabilities to its digital ID solution NetVerify:

“The underlying problem is that when someone presents a document, we can find out everything about that document, but it still doesn’t answer the question of who is behind the computer doing the transaction,” says Philip Pointner, Jumio’s vice president of product. The company’s integrated solution verifies end users through ID documentation like a license.

This is in addition to NetVerify’s existing ID authentication technology; users will now have to match the photos on their IDs with their actual faces. This eliminates a certain sector of fraud, creating a more secure way for users to authenticate transactions with their own biology—and a way for them to avoid easily hackable passwords.

Other biometric companies also commented on the benefits of online security when it comes to thwarting certain types of fraud—like Ori Eisen, CEO of biometric security company Trusona, which one might remember from its Best in Show demo at Finovate NYC 2016, who participated in a panel on the subject yesterday morning.

“We turn a static thing into something dynamic,” Eisen told Bank Innovation—a password being the ‘static’ thing. “We have something in our software that makes it a one-time code [to login], which took out many of the breaches that we see today. Not every security concern is created equal—for the average user we just don’t want them to use static passwords.”

Alongside other panelists like Visa’s Mark Nelson and Intel’s Ricardo J. Echevarria, as well as Frank Abagnale of Abagnale & Associates (who is himself a Trusona advisor and also the inspiration behind the movie Catch Me If You Can), Eisen discussed the case for “the insured internet;” meaning a digital atmosphere where the security of a customer’s data is protected to the point of it being insured.

Trusona’s technology declares war on passwords by making it easier for customers not to use one; however, Eisen also told Bank Innovation that as much as we lazy consumers like things easy, security is an area we really do have to personally manage at least a little—we can’t leave it all for the companies.

But of course companies have to do their part too, according to Eisen—and Todd Thiemann, VP of Nok Nok Labs, one of the companies which co-founded of FIDO:

“It is a cat-and-mouse game,” Thiemann told Bank Innovation, regarding fraud. “FIDO is sort of a game-changer; moving forward from usernames and passwords so we don’t have that potential for fraud. Biometrics are great but you have to leverage biometrics—there’s been an initial wave of companies that deployed biometric solutions. FIDO and Nok Nok are providing a platform for another wave of change that is happening in the industry.”

Companies like InAuth can do just that–the company’s security solution is integrated into around 100 million mobile devices around the world, and according to company CEO Lisa Stanton the question people have to ask about biometrics is “whether that biometric has to travel.”

The unfortunate fact is that as good as biometric technology is, the inspired can still find ways around it, according to Abagnale—who, if by chance you have not seen the DiCaprio movie based on his life, ran identity fraud scams as a teenager before eventually going to work for the federal government.

“There is no technology, nor will there ever be a technology, that defeats social engineering,” Abagnale pointed out to Bank Innovation. “What I did fifty years ago is a thousand times easier today—technology breeds crime, so you have to educate people about the risk.”

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