Mastering bank-grade security with biometrics and AI

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We are witnessing a new era of fast and secure identity authentication, powered by the perfect digital storm: artificial intelligence, facial recognition, and biometrics. Which were once just buzzwords, are now game-changing technologies in the world of digital banking and finance. Today, financial institutions are using their massive potential to enforce stricter privacy practices. Nevertheless, malicious insider breaches pose a looming threat to user data.  

Aware of this, decision-makers at banking services have been trying out various methods of identity verification. These include passphrases, social logins, and even two-factor authentication, combined with passwords to improve security. However, studies show that all of them compromise security or user experience to some degree. This demand for seamless identity verification has put biometrics authentication and facial recognition at the forefront of bank-grade security.

Insider Threats in the Banking Industry

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Quite often, we think of “data breaches” as the fault of a hooded hacker hunched over his laptop in a dingy remote location. But, chances are that the culprit is inside the building with direct access to security credentials and sensitive systems. Ponemon Institute’s Cost of a Data Breach Study states that malicious insiders are one of the leading causes of data breaches. 

A striking reminder of this came when the largest federal credit union in North America, Canadian bank Desjardins Group, announced an insider breach of massive proportions. The breach affected over 4.2 million people and nearly 173,000 companies. Here, the malicious insider turned out to be an employee from the company’s IT department.

According to Guy Cormier, president, and CEO of Desjardins Group, underlying measures like a well-structured employee monitoring system, continuous identity verification, and privileged access management could have stopped the employee from securing unauthorized access. 

Let’s consider some scenarios in digital banking where confidential data can be compromised.

Absence of a clean desk policy

If an employee leaves sensitive information unattended on their desktop screen, visible in plain view, it raises a big red flag. We all know how a five-minute coffee break can turn into a 30-minute conversation about movies or politics. This is enough time for an insider to skim through confidential documents, passwords, and emails. 

Accessing restricted sites

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While banking firms are able to monitor instant messages and emails internally, it is almost impossible to track what an individual is communicating on Facebook, Twitter or even Gmail. Gemalto says that nearly half of all the records compromised in the first 6 months of 2018 were from social media breaches. This makes banking employees easy targets for phishing and identity fraud. 

Copy/print screens

Without proper security protocols, employees can easily take screenshots of confidential documents and circulate them online. Similarly, a rogue employee can print out sensitive information without leaving any tracks.

Preventing security breaches with biometrics

In the age of big data, financial institutions must ensure due caution and security vetting while selecting employees or a third-party cloud partner. 

On-site Security

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Biometric authentication softwares can replace physical tokens for employees with privileged access to confidential information or any employee for that matter. Unlike ID cards that can be forged and passwords that can be cracked, a person’s face is unique. Facial recognition softwares are becoming more refined with advances in behavioral biometrics, hence they are of great use to a security-centric industry like banking.   

Similarly, biometric fingerprint scanners and other biometric devices ( iris scans, voice recognition) can be used to track employee movement within the organization.  

Confidential document review

Ensuring compliance within regulatory standards has become more challenging since documents have moved to digital formats. As mentioned above, confidentiality lies at the core of banking. One way to achieve secured and effective document management is through continuous identity verification. AI-enabled face recognition technology can keep an eye on how data is being stored, accessed and retained.

Banks can opt for an AI-based employee monitoring software like Remotedesk which also detects any attempt to take a picture of the screen with a smartphone. Features like screenshots, printing, and copying can be enabled or disabled depending on the type of work. Any concerns of a secured login are solved with 3-point identity multi-factor authentication (Facial Scan, ID Scan, and Knuckle Scan) and full system checks ensure a clean desk environment. 

Key takeaways

The impact of AI and biometrics in the banking industry is quite profound. As we get accustomed to the existing applications of biometrics and AI, they are only set to grow savvier. Due to increasing reports of data breaches and insider threats, banks are integrating biometrics and AI with already existing banking softwares. We can safely say that it has empowered the banking industry to embrace biometrics as the set standard for identity/document authentication.

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