The biometrics industry is facing an inflection point. As post-pandemic digitization expands the fraud attack surface and enables new forms of AI-driven cybercrime, the technology providers capable of delivering an identity-safe future are bolstering their portfolios through innovation, acquisition, and strategy. Among the most exciting of these contemporary identity players is Mitek Systems.
FindBiometrics Editor in Chief Peter Counter recently spoke with Chris Briggs, SVP Identity, Mitek Systems, about how his company’s acquisitions of biometrics companies ID R&D and HooYu fit into its strategic roadmap. They go on to discuss Mitek’s differentiating factors as an identity verification (IDV) provider, the AI-enhanced fraud threats currently on the rise, and the most persistent myth about biometrics.
Read our full interview with Chris Briggs, SVP Identity, Mitek Systems:
FindBiometrics: Mitek has a long history as a leader in identity verification—a space that saw a flood of biometric solutions over the past three years. In that time, your company acquired two biometrics specialists: HooYu and ID R&D. How have those acquisitions enhanced Mitek’s offerings and its approach to the evolving identity landscape?
Chris Briggs, SVP Identity, Mitek Systems: Both acquisitions are about staying ahead of the evolving identity verification and fraud landscape, and they expanded our capabilities in vastly different ways. ID R&D has a long history of innovation in the biometrics space and that expertise is helping us stay ahead of emerging trends like deepfakes and injection attacks, which are quickly becoming immensely popular attack vectors. In addition, their specialization in both face and voice recognition gave us the ability to launch a true multi-modal authentication solution, which we have shown to reduce the frequency of successful attacks by over 100x during testing scenarios. But of course, authentication only works when verification is assured, and you are confident in the identity of people accessing your services. HooYu gave us an incredibly powerful platform on which to expand our verification capabilities. We can not only verify government issued ID’s and confirm it’s the correct person in possession of that document, but we can also corroborate that information against multiple databases, check email and social account history, look at geolocation status, and even look at open banking information to provide the highest level of confidence about who’s on the other end of that mobile or desktop device.
FindBiometrics: What makes biometrics so integral to the modern identity verification process, and what is unique about Mitek’s approach to biometric IDV?
Chris Briggs, SVP Identity, Mitek Systems: Let’s face it, we all kind of hate passwords at this point. I think we have truly reached an inflection point for consumer biometrics. Tools like Apple Face ID and Microsoft Hello have helped the general population get comfortable with biometrics as an authentication method, and the convenience they bring to the user experience has caused a massive surge in customer demand for them. There is nothing to remember. There is nothing that can be stolen or left behind. You are using things that are uniquely you to log-in to your accounts. But it is not just simplicity. Biometrics also offer much greater security, and that is what makes our approach so powerful. We combine two different biometric factors (both face and voice) with passive liveness detection to create a sophisticated form of biometric authentication that is exceedingly hard to circumvent or fool.
FindBiometrics: Empowered by AI, today’s bad actors and fraudsters are becoming increasingly sophisticated, accelerating what is often characterized as a cybersecurity arms race. How is Mitek keeping up with new threats like deepfakes?
Chris Briggs, SVP Identity, Mitek Systems: Deepfakes are something we have been working on for a while, and ID R&D has a long history of innovation when it comes to biometric verification. It takes a multi-layered strategy to defend against a lot of the emerging AI attack vectors. You need to be able to spot virtual camera injections, image compression and resolution characteristics, and even look at embedded image telemetry data to spot tampering. We also work very closely with our customers to identify novel and emerging techniques so we can build countermeasures to combat new approaches before they can become full-blown security holes.
FindBiometrics: Despite the mainstream popularity of biometrics, our research shows that there are still significant misconceptions around technologies like facial recognition. What misconceptions about biometrics are still proving to be adoption obstacles, and what education strategies has Mitek taken to overcome these challenges?
Chris Briggs, SVP Identity, Mitek Systems: I think the biggest misconception and fear when it comes to biometrics is around personally identifiable information (PII).
Consumers still question if XYZ company is going to be storing their picture, or a recording of their voice, somewhere where hackers and fraudsters can potentially steal. This is despite most of us having countless images and videos of ourselves that we have freely posted to social media channels. The reality, however, is that biometrics are not stored as images or audio files, they are stored as unique numerical templates. So, there is nothing for a fraudster to steal because only that system has the appropriate algorithm to decipher and match the template. Those individual and unique templates are also why third-party biometrics, like Mitek’s, provide businesses with an advantage over simple on-device biometrics.
The irony is that people share credentials to their devices all the time. If you let your spouse or your child access your phone, even if they are using their own biometrics, when that ecommerce site or stock trading platform asks for permission to place an order using on-device biometrics, it will still ‘approve’ for any user of that device. On-device biometrics do not verify a unique user, they just verify the person has approved access to that device.
Learn more about the fraud-fighting benefits of Mitek’s approach to biometrics by downloading these latest eBook resources: