Do you trust the selfie?

Issue 2/3 2023 Financial (Industry), Access Control & Identity Management, Security Services & Risk Management

The COVID pandemic saw virtual identity checks become the norm. However, not all identity-proofing methods are created equal; some of the mainstream options fall far short of best practice guidelines. By choosing the right methodology and technology, CIOs and security and risk leaders can build an authentication solution that maximises security and provides a frictionless customer experience.

In a world where data breaches occur every other day, there are thousands of terabytes of personal information in the hands of the wrong people, making identity spoofing one of the biggest security challenges today.

When it comes to on-boarding customers signing up for new bank accounts, loan finance applications, or insurance policies, having secure ways of verifying applicants’ identities is critical. The old ways of conducting identity checks, which rely on the usual name, address, and ID number, can no longer be viewed as adequate, given the amount of new account fraud that occurs via identity spoofing.

Leveraging stronger solutions that layer of risk and trust signals, such as device ID, behavioural analytics, and location signals, security can be bolstered. However, even these methods do not always offer a sufficiently robust security response.

“Solutions that rely on multiple data points like ID number, name, as well as behavioural data are more secure than solutions that only rely on a name, address and ID number, but they are still not sufficient. Creating a synthetic ID is so easy nowadays that anyone can learn how to do it online. The most secure approach to identity proofing relies on comparing a presented ID document against a government database. In cases and countries where such databases do not exist, the next best option would be what experts refer to as ‘document-centric identity proofing’, or the ID+selfie process. In this case, a picture of a photo ID document is compared with a selfie using liveness detection,” says Gerhard Oosthuizen, Chief Technology Officer at Entersekt.

Proof of life is not as hard as it once was

Oosthuizen explains that the reason why document-centric identity proofing is working so well is that it can rely on sophisticated technology to assist with the verification process and help protect against ID spoofing.

“We already have the iBeta ISO 30107-3 standard, which prescribes the recommended methods to test biometric authentication and measure the effectiveness of liveness detection. This can be achieved in various ways, such as bouncing different coloured lights onto the person when taking the photo. Based on the feedback, the software can detect if the photo is of a living person. And, while some vendors will rely on AI to run the checks, many still have call centres where checks can be escalated to human assessors, adding an additional layer of verification,” he explains.

Interest is growing fast and it’s not surprising

The identity verification market is expected to grow from $8 billion in 2021 to reach $17.7 billion in 2026, with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 17.1%, and identity proofing in particular, is gaining popularity.

Oosthuizen explains that this technology is also of particular relevance to organisations that do not have access to central identity databases.

“Using a selfie with an ID document is a self-contained system. By lifting the picture in the ID document and comparing it to the live picture of the selfie, relying on a central governmental database is not required. Since many countries do not have such databases in place, it is not surprising that this technology is getting real traction from many banks that are using the capability as part of their on-boarding and recovery processes,” he says.

Oosthuizen says companies can use identity proofing as a way to take their first real step towards a passwordless future, especially if it is part of an integrated authentication solution.

“Using ID + selfie identity for ID proofing is a great fallback authentication method and an initial establishment of truth, but we understand that companies do not want to rely on this as their default authentication method, nor should they. For lower risk transactions and processes, we should be aiming towards a frictionless environment where advanced security happens in the background. Fortunately, with this built into Entersekt’s standard offering, companies can customise their risk settings as they need,” he says.

Oosthuizen is not complacent about how fast nefarious groups can adapt to new technologies. “It has become urgent for companies to employ a diverse range of risk and trust signals for functions like on-boarding, credential recovery and adding new recipients. It is a sad reality that bad actors are exceptionally good at adopting new technologies to separate us from our identities and funds, but for now, it remains difficult to socially engineer away my face,” he says.

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