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Don’t confuse biometrics with strong authentication

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The information we want to keep private is increasingly at risk, but no-one wants that information protected by cumbersome passwords. FRANS LABUSCHAGNE, Entersekt country manager UK and Ireland, believes that the stage is set for large-scale biometrics.

As our world becomes more digitalised, the information we want to keep private is increasingly at risk – and yet no-one wants that information protected by cumbersome security measures which do not fit in with our pace of living. As such, the stage seems to be set for the large-scale adoption of super-convenient biometric technology, especially on the mobile. Different forms of biometric security have already begun working their way into the banking and payments industries; among these are face, fingerprint, iris, palm, vein and voice.

Everyone with a stake in digital banking security has been tracking the rapid developments in biometrics and debating the technology’s usefulness in the battle against cybercrime. There is little doubt that biometrics will play an important role in securing mobile services, particularly when viewed from the perspective of user convenience. But it is also fair to point out that biometrics can place enterprises and their customers at risk if deployed as the sole means of user identification and transaction authentication.

To effectively secure high-risk transactions, banks and other financial service providers need a strong base layer of security, such as that offered by Entersekt’s Transakt platform, to which biometrics can be added via a flexible plug-in as required for increased risk levels or improved user experience.

Unlike usernames and passwords, which we can change at will, we only have one set of biometric data. If this falls into hackers’ hands, it becomes of no use to us for authentication purposes. The consensus amongst industry experts, such as the FIDO Alliance, is that we must limit the exposure of our private biometric data by not sharing it, and keeping it instead locked down on our personal devices. Even then, our biometrics are still only as safe as the technology of our devices allows them to be. Devices can be rooted or jailbroken, and their owners often engage in risky behaviour.

Attackers have already figured out how to bypass many of today’s biometric solutions, and the fight for supremacy between financial service providers and hackers will only intensify over time. Biometrics can play a valuable role in user verification, but for the strong authentication of users and sensitive transactions, more than one authentication factor must be in place. The three possible factors are knowledge (something the user knows), possession (something the user has), and inherence (something the user is). This means that even so-called dual biometrics, which entails using, for example, both a fingerprint and a “selfie” for authentication, does not qualify as strong authentication, because both mechanisms are of the same factor.

Identity theft and account takeover strategies are increasing in sophistication and impact, making the balance between user experience and security more complex – and more challenging – than ever. As is proved almost daily, no single security measure will hold for long against persistent attacks from cybercriminals. It is only by layering cutting-edge technologies such as digital certificates with biometrics that an institution will be able to stand up to fraud.

Selecting an authentication solution that combines the highest level of protection with the lowest possible user friction will ensure that financial service providers meet regulatory requirements, as well as user demands, as industry changes advance from all sides.

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How we use phones to avoid human contact

A recent study by Kaspersky Lab has found that 75% of people pick up their connected device to avoid conversing with another human being.

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Connected devices are becoming essential to keeping people in contact with each other, but for many they are also a much-needed comfort blanket in a variety of social situations when they do not want to interact with others. A recent survey from Kaspersky Lab has confirmed this trend in behaviour after three-quarters of people (75%) admitted they use a device to pretend to be busy when they don’t want to talk to someone else, showing the importance of keeping connected devices protected under all circumstances. 

Imagine you’ve arrived at a bar and you’re waiting for your date. The bar is busy, and people are chatting all around you. What do you do now? Strike up a conversation with someone you don’t know? Grab your phone from your pocket or handbag until your date arrives to keep yourself busy? Why talk to humans or even make eye-contact with someone else when you can stare at your connected device instead?

The truth is, our use of devices is making it much easier to avoid small talk or even be polite to those around us, and new Kaspersky Lab research has found that 72% of people use one when they do not know what to do in a social situation. They are also the ‘go-to’ distraction for people even when they aren’t trying to look busy or avoid someone’s eye. 46% of people admit to using a device just to kill time every day and 44% use it as a daily distraction.

In addition to just being a distraction, devices are also a lifeline to those who would rather not talk directly to another person in day-to-day situations, to complete essential tasks. In fact, nearly a third (31%) of people would prefer to carry out tasks such as ordering a taxi or finding directions to where they need to go via a website and an app, because they find it an easier experience than speaking with another person.

Whether they are helping us avoid direct contact or filling a void in our daily lives, our constant reliance on devices has become a cause for panic when they become unusable. A third (34%) of people worry that they will not be able to entertain themselves if they cannot access a connected device. 12% are even concerned that they won’t be able to pretend to be busy if their device is out of action.

Dmitry Aleshin, VP for Product Marketing, Kaspersky Lab said, “The reliance on connected devices is impacting us in more ways than we could have ever expected. There is no doubt that being connected gives us the freedom to make modern life easier, but devices are also vital to help people get through different and difficult social situations. No matter what your ‘connection crutch’ is, it is essential to make sure your device is online and available when you need it most.”

To ensure your device lifeline is always there and in top health – no matter what the reason or situation – Kaspersky Security Cloud keeps your connection safe and secure:

·         I want to use my device while waiting for a friend – is it secure to access the bar’s Wi-Fi?

With Kaspersky Security Cloud, devices are protected against network threats, even if the user needs to use insecure public Wi-Fi hotspots. This is done through transferring data via an encrypted channel to ensure personal data safety, so users’ devices are protected on any connection.

·         Oh no! I’m bored but my phone’s battery is getting low – what am I going to do?

Users can track their battery level thanks to a countdown of how many minutes are left until their device shuts down in the Kaspersky Security Cloud interface. There is also a wide-range of portable power supplies available to keep device batteries charged while on-the-go.

·         I’ve lost my phone! How will I keep myself entertained now?

Should the unthinkable happen and you lose or have your phone stolen, Kaspersky Security Cloud can track and protect your device from data breaches, for complete peace of mind. Remote lock and locate features ensure your device remains secure until you are reunited.

 

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Five key biometric facts

Due to their uniqueness, fingerprints are being used more and more to quickly identify and ensure the security of customers. CLAUDE LANGLEY, Regional Sales Manager, for Africa at HID Global Biometrics, outlines five facts about the technology.

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How many times in a day are you expected to identify yourself? From when you arrive at work you are required to sign in, visiting your bank, receiving healthcare services… The list is endless. When a system knows who you are, you are able to do any number common, everyday activities. Your identity is unique and precious. It is also easily stolen and the target of many hackers across the globe. Technology is constantly evolving alongside the criminal element, always looking for ways to protect data and identity. One such solution happens to be biometrics and it is rapidly gaining traction in our increasingly complex modern world.

Reliable, secure and fundamentally YOU, unique biometric traits such as fingerprints are being used by banks, enterprises and consumers to verify identity. Biometric solutions offer significant identity protection because they use unique biological details to ensure an account is only accessed by the account holder, a door only opened by the owner. Here are five things that are little known about this technology…

  • The uncut identity. Your fingerprint is unique to you. Nobody can use a copy of it to impersonate you. Good technology is capable of scanning down into the layers of the fingertip to differentiate unique elements of a person’s fingerprint, this data is then encrypted and used as a key to unlocking whichever physical or virtual door that the biometric system protects.
  • The living proof. No, there is nothing to the stories of fingerprints being used without their owner’s knowledge or permission. Biometric solutions can use specific variables to determine if the finger used to access the system is that of a present, living person.  A copy or a fake cannot be used to access a cutting-edge biometric solution.
  • Easy and convenient. Queues and documents and paperwork may well be a thing of the past should biometrics take a firmer grip of government and banking systems. The process of registering is easy, and access to identity documents and records is yours alone.
  • Security blanket. A thousand passwords and a hundred post-it notes stuck on walls and drawers.  An excel file with a list of sites and applications and their corresponding passwords, all a thing of the past.  Nobody needs to remember their password with biometrics, they only need to show up.
  • Anywhere is cool. Schools, airports, networks, offices, homes, toilets, banks, libraries, governments, border controls, immigration services, call centres, hospitals and even clubs and pubs – knowing “who” matters and biometrics can quickly and conveniently confirm your identity where needed.

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