By Ian Barker
Proving who you are online is usually a matter of entering passwords or other codes. Which means if your information falls into the wrong hands someone else would have no problem pretending to be you.
IBM has been working on this problem and has patented a technique that analyzes online behaviour to work out if you really are who you say you are.
When you access a banking or shopping site for example you subconsciously establish characteristics of how you interact with the site. You’ll click certain areas more often than others; use the up and down arrow keys on the keyboard to navigate; rely solely on the mouse; or tap and swipe the screen of a tablet or smartphone in a distinctive manner.
IBM likens this to the way we spot changes in the mood of a family member on the phone from their tone of voice or the words they use, even if the sound quality is poor.
If the new invention detects a change in behavior, it triggers a secondary authentication measure, such as an additional security question. This helps businesses and website operators avoid unintentionally hindering legitimate customer activities or transactions.
“Our invention improves the effectiveness of authentication and security systems with insights derived from real-time data analytics,” says Keith Walker, IBM Master Inventor and co-inventor on the patent. “For example, if an individual suddenly changes how they interact with an online bank or store, such as due to a broken hand or using a tablet instead of a desktop computer, I want these web sites to detect the change, and then ask for extra identity confirmation before accepting a transaction. Our experience developing and testing a prototype, which flawlessly confirmed identities, shows that such a change would more likely be due to fraud, and we all want these sites to provide more protection while simultaneously processing our transactions quickly”.
IBM’s US Patent #8,650,080: “User-browser interaction-based fraud detection system” is something the company sees as a step towards ultimately producing a “digital guardian” which will be able to oversee your every move online.