The Need for User Verification in a Remote Society

By Sumer Sen and Tia Goyal, Fyrii

Covid-19 has accelerated the digital transformation of many companies. Numerous workers have been forced to go home and many in-person processes have been forced to digitize. This shift has led to the need for robust user verification in our new remote society. It has also resulted in a surge of online transactions and electronic payment options for in-person transactions. In fact, a Statista study claims that businesses have seen a 52% increase in software spending for remote desktop tools since the beginning of the pandemic. It’s obvious that businesses are utilizing new online tools in order to verify their users. However, at this time, it is becoming increasingly difficult to verify users in a reliable and secure manner with minimum to no contact, shining light on the need for new cutting edge technologies.

Current user verification
Regular activities that were previously carried out in person, for example onboarding a new employee, opening a bank account, and obtaining new mobile services, are now forcibly being conducted online. With this shift, it is necessary to prevent fraud by verifying new user registrations. Currently people verify themselves with basic validation metrics such as fingerprint, facial, voice, signature, and ID/documents. New technologies utilize facial recognition algorithms to compare a photo of an ID document with a selfie of the new user. This liveness detection verifies the authenticity of the user in real time, minimizing the chance of fraudulent activities. The adoption of this technology will be beneficial for many other industries for example hotel check-ins, carsharing, and even crypto-currency trading.

Let us take educational institutions—all schools and universities around the nation had to cancel in-person classes and implement online learning to continue student education. In an effort to prevent identity fraud, many schools have implemented facial recognition to verify identities when taking exams and throughout the course. Facial, fingerprint, and voice recognition can also be used to ensure the authenticity of the student completing the course from home. Not only did the pandemic impact school work, it also disrupted the process of signing contracts and other documents. As a result, businesses have begun using electronic signature tools to delocalize the signing process. This not only reduces costs but creates a simpler, more eco-friendly process.

Drawbacks with current verification systems
However, the current verification systems in place will not be enough to support the remote work that is now happening at scale. Remote user experiences can create increased opportunities for fraud, degrade user and customer experiences, and can be expensive to provision and administer. From a security perspective, we currently face the lack of continuous authentication. A Gartner Inc. report found that many vendor tools focus only on login, with no ability to see subsequent user actions throughout a session. Such systems are unable to continuously act to balance risk and trust at the moment of access. Our current security infrastructure requires investment in lower-friction alternatives based on Gartner's Continuous Adaptive Risk and Trust Assessment (CARTA). From 2017 to 2020, Statista reported an annual spending increase in our identity access management infrastructure, which is propelling us in the right direction.

With more than half of the US workforce experiencing some form of remote work (Statista - Work from home & remote work), the additional investments in security and access management is a welcome move. However, one area that often gets overlooked is identity verification. The current landscape of identity verification solutions are geared towards in-person verification and are hard to adapt to remote verification needs. With the current verification landscape in this new work culture, it is becoming harder to verify identities in person. We need to answer some of the following questions. How do we determine if the proof customers are giving is actually valid? How can we perform high level background checks with trusted sources remotely? This pandemic calls for a new contactless, decentralized verification system. In our next blog, we will explore the future desired state of user verification systems and what should be done differently. If you want to learn more about the need for user verification in a remote society, check out Fyrii! We will be hosting a Cyber Security webinar on this topic with Michael Engle, Chief Strategy Officer at 1kosmos, and Suresh Sridharan, Senior Director, IAM/Product Management, at Plex Systems, Inc.