Editorial & Advertiser Disclosure Global Banking And Finance Review is an independent publisher which offers News, information, Analysis, Opinion, Press Releases, Reviews, Research reports covering various economies, industries, products, services and companies. The content available on globalbankingandfinance.com is sourced by a mixture of different methods which is not limited to content produced and supplied by various staff writers, journalists, freelancers, individuals, organizations, companies, PR agencies Sponsored Posts etc. The information available on this website is purely for educational and informational purposes only. We cannot guarantee the accuracy or applicability of any of the information provided at globalbankingandfinance.com with respect to your individual or personal circumstances. Please seek professional advice from a qualified professional before making any financial decisions. Globalbankingandfinance.com also links to various third party websites and we cannot guarantee the accuracy or applicability of the information provided by third party websites. Links from various articles on our site to third party websites are a mixture of non-sponsored links and sponsored links. Only a very small fraction of the links which point to external websites are affiliate links. Some of the links which you may click on our website may link to various products and services from our partners who may compensate us if you buy a service or product or fill a form or install an app. This will not incur additional cost to you. A very few articles on our website are sponsored posts or paid advertorials. These are marked as sponsored posts at the bottom of each post. For avoidance of any doubts and to make it easier for you to differentiate sponsored or non-sponsored articles or links, you may consider all articles on our site or all links to external websites as sponsored . Please note that some of the services or products which we talk about carry a high level of risk and may not be suitable for everyone. These may be complex services or products and we request the readers to consider this purely from an educational standpoint. The information provided on this website is general in nature. Global Banking & Finance Review expressly disclaims any liability without any limitation which may arise directly or indirectly from the use of such information.

Strong Customer Authentication: The Potential and Peril of Biometric Authentication

By Mike Kiser, Security strategist and evangelist, SailPoint 

As I strode quickly off the plane I had taken back to the US and towards customs recently after an international trip, I reached into my satchel. Like the rest of humanity, I did not want to spend any more time in the airport than necessary, so I extracted my passport and scanned for an open machine to start the scanning process.

Instead of prompting me to submit my documentation, however, the kiosk asked for a form of biometric authentication — facial recognition. Once the system took my photo, my relevant information appeared on screen for my confirmation. No document to submit, no questions to be answered. I was home in record time, the friction of the reentry process greatly reduced thanks to this new innovation. But who was storing my biometric data, I wondered? And how was it being secured?

 With the arrival of PSD2 and its call for Strong Customer Authentication (SCA) last September, there is potential for a similar wave of innovation to sweep across the financial industry. Strong Customer Authentication seeks to enhance security for transactions by requiring two out of three forms of authentication: (1) something the customer knows, (2) something the customer has, or (3) something the customer is.

It is this last element that is emerging with the adoption of PSD2. It is widely recognised that customers have difficulty in choosing and adequately protecting their passwords (“what the customer knows”) and asking customers to carry a second factor for authentication such as a hardware-based device likely increases the overhead for a transaction (“something the customer has”). (Mobile phones, while ubiquitous, have recently been revealed to be too easily spoofed to be a useful second factor.) Thus, the biometric authentication of customers (“something the customer is”) becomes a valuable addition to the security arsenal, and it is already being implemented by various vendors.

Biometric authentication holds great promise for increasing security as well as reducing the friction of transactions. Being able to pay for something at a glance is a powerful tool when used responsibly. But it also elevates the responsibility to secure the data that facilitates this ease of use.

These biometric markers are fundamentally different than passwords. Passwords may be reset and changed at a moment’s notice to reestablish security controls, but biometric markers are not easily modified. Once they are made public, they are rendered useless — and a persistent threat for the exposed individuals. The recent breach of a facial recognition database shows the dangers of not providing adequate security controls around this information, and it is more than just simple reuse of photos: the use of artificial intelligence and deep fakes to recreate voice and video increases the potential impact of a breach.

 As always, security is best applied in layers with identity at its core. Identity provides the key for ensuring that only the proper people or entities have access to this data, and only at the necessary time. Using well established identity standards such as FIDO ensures that identity-based policies are appropriately enforced to protect this most sacrosanct of customer data.

The Strong Customer Authentication that comes with PSD2 promises to increase financial transaction security while also providing a pathway to a more frictionless customer experience. Organisations that want to serve their customers well will embrace the ease-of-use that biometrics may provide, while ensuring that they serve their customers well with security protections for those unchangeable markers. And by protecting “something that the customer is,” financial institutions can demonstrate something they are: a partner to be trusted.