Building trust online: Behavioral biometrics in identity verification

Running a website or web-based services is a bit like hosting a masquerade ball.

You look out over a massive crowd of guests, each donning a unique mask that obscures their identity. Some of these guests are your trusted users, and some are bad actors who weren’t invited. It’s your job to make your way through the crowd and pick out the party crashers.

Article at a glance:

  • Bad actors are increasingly using sophisticated attacks to bypass common bot-detection tools and gain access to user credentials.
  • Building trust with users is essential for businesses, but not having visibility into a specific user’s unique behavioral indicators keeps businesses suspicious of all their users.
  • Behavioral biometrics can provide greater insight into user behavior by building a profile that allows businesses to introduce friction when the user deviates from expected behavior.

Bad actors have become increasingly adept at hiding in the online-user crowd by leveraging sophisticated attacks, which many businesses are unequipped to detect. Mutual trust is essential for developing a relationship with customers, but the threat of these attacks makes trusting actual users much more difficult. How can businesses build trust when both trusted users and fraudsters are masked up?

Fortunately, by relying on advanced behavioral biometric technology, businesses can more easily verify that their customers are who they say they are and, in turn, kick fraudsters out of the party.

Walking through a digital commerce future

How bad actors crashed the identity verification party

Why are sophisticated fraud attacks so difficult to catch? The answer is simple: These attacks mimic human behavior to escape detection. Using bots, scripts and a variety of other tools, fraudsters seek to replicate how actual humans type, click and otherwise behave online. In our masquerade ball example, these bad actors would be taking turns on the dance floor and enjoying refreshments just like the invited guests.

Unfortunately, many businesses haven’t matched the sophistication of these tactics and are still relying heavily, or even solely, on password authentication. While traditional passwords aren’t completely obsolete, users’ tendencies to use weak passwords — or reuse the same password for multiple accounts — makes them a prime target for fraudsters. Requiring multi-factor authentication (MFA) can make password authentication more secure, but doing so too often can lead to unnecessary friction and frustration for trusted users.

To avoid putting trusted users at risk, businesses need to elevate their security architecture.. But at the same time, they can’t go around the party demanding every guest show their ID and expect the festivities to continue. Companies also need to avoid  treating every user with suspicion. Asking for a login over and over again is no way to build trust with customers. Conversely, if users don’t trust your business to keep their credentials safe, they’ll bristle at unexpected security precautions — even if they’re justified. Instead, companies must find a way to elevate their security in a way that preserves the experience of trusted users.

Behavioral biometrics can get the party back on track

Behavioral biometrics security tools monitor user behavior in the background to authenticate individual users. They look at human behavior at a granular level differentiating invited guests from masked fraudsters. Behavioral biometrics collect data on what type of device a user typically uses, how they type, how they move their mouse, and more. Over time, a profile is developed that helps businesses step in if the user deviates from these patterns.

In simpler terms, let’s say you lost track of your friend Jeff at the masquerade ball. Jeff is just under six feet tall and is wearing a white mask. There may be 10 people at the party that fit that description, but when you start talking to Jeff, the sound of his voice, his posture, and his hand gestures all tip you off that it’s him underneath the mask. These types of specific behaviors are what behavioral biometrics seek to uncover, so your systems have enough information to make a sound judgment.

Ultimately, an investment in behavioral biometrics provides a more solid foundation for identity authentication decision-making.

Don’t let bad actors ruin the ball

As your business expands, the masquerade ball you’re hosting will only get bigger. There will be more guests to manage and more decisions to be made about who to stop at the door and who to let inside.

To manage this complexity, you need security tools that provide a greater level of insight into user behavior. Behavioral biometrics are the key that unlocks trust with your users and prevents bad actors from spoiling the fun.