INTERVIEW: Raul Popa, CEO, Data Scientist & Co-founder, TypingDNA

INTERVIEW: Raul Popa, CEO, TypingDNA

As the biometrics industry continues to evolve toward frictionless user experiences, behavioral biometrics solutions, which measure the unique ways users interact with devices, are gaining in popularity. To gain more insight on this growing industry trend, Susan Stover, Director of Digital Content, FindBiometrics, caught up with TypingDNA CEO Raul Popa ahead of the coming RSA 2019 conference. The interview begins with a rundown of TypingDNA’s behavioral biometrics solutions in both authentication and fraud detection applications. Popa and Stover go on to discuss how typing biometrics fit into the larger authentication landscape, specifically in respect to multifactor applications, as well as the growing need for TypingDNA’s technology in financial services and other verticals. The conversation concludes with a preview of what TypingDNA has in store for 2019.

Read the full interview with Raul Popa, CEO, Data Scientist & Co-founder, TypingDNA:

Susan Stover, Director of Digital Content, FindBiometrics: Thank you Raul for joining me today. Behavioral biometrics is certainly one of the most exciting modalities for anti-fraud security, can you tell our readers more about what solution TypingDNA offers?

Raul Popa, CEO, TypingDNA: TypingDNA recognizes people by the way they type. We look at how they type on mobile devices, desktops and laptops and based on that we are able to recognize them whenever they use the application, or whenever they repeatedly visit the website. Our technology can be implemented in systems for two-factor authentication and multiple fraud detection scenarios

FB: In many deployments, like TypingDNA’s integration of Optimal IdM, behavioral biometrics are used as part of the multifactor system. What specialized role do behavioral biometrics play in multifactor authentication (MFA) scenarios?

Raul Popa, CEO, TypingDNA: The thing is that typing biometrics can be implemented anywhere as part of an MFA solution; it could be in an adaptive authentication system that may have seven factors layered in. Typing biometrics can be used anywhere within the layers. Typically, it would be used in one of the first layers as users usually type at the beginning of a session when they type a username, email, password or some information about themselves. Whenever they do so it’s clever to look at how they type and use that as a stand-alone factor or use that to trigger another authentication factor. Typing biometrics in general, and TypingDNA in particular, is typically used when somebody types so we can fall back to more complex system, to an authenticator app, SMS OTP or other such options.

Also, because typing biometrics and TypingDNA is cheaper, and comes with better security than SMS based authentication, it makes sense to be used before that step. In case the user is not recognized, you can  fall back to another authentication factor, like SMS. Also, what is really important is that it doesn’t require installation for the end user. When you ask a user to enter a code which he would probably have in an authenticator app on a mobile device, that first has to be installed – there is a lot of friction driving a poor user experience.

FB: TypingDNA technology offers a number of applications obviously but first I wanted to talk about behavior-based authentication for financial services. Given regulations such as PSD2 how is TypingDNA working to offer strong customer authentication?

Raul Popa, CEO, TypingDNA: Every bank in Europe will have to be fully compliant with PSD2’s Strong Customer Authentication by September 2019. Because of that they are looking for ways to be compliant even and also to make sure they don’t interfere with the customer experience. One of the things that PSD2 requires in authentication is the use of minimum of two independent authentication factors. One factor could be the username and password and, as we spoke earlier about MFA, typing biometrics can be the other factor. Typing biometrics, as a form of behavioral biometrics, can be used in a strong customer authentication system, as the EBA has confirmed. This is already carried into national legislation, with the UK’s FCA explicitly accepting behavioral biometrics as an inherence factor.

FB: Other than financial services, what are some of the other markets or industries TypingDNA technology is well suited for? It seems like it would be well suited for the enterprise industry.

Raul Popa, CEO, TypingDNA: So, enterprise definitely. There are use cases that our technology can solve there; if you look at DUO Security, for example, it solves the very simple 2FA use case for enterprise but there are many more use cases that we can solve here.  Historically, behavioral biometrics solutions are used in the financial vertical whether it is financial services, financial software, banking apps, fintech, crypto exchanges, wallets. Aside from that, we see a has huge potential in healthcare, and most enterprise and consumer applications. Wherever we see 2FA, we might see typing biometrics in the future. Wherever we see high fraud rates and a lot of private data, we will see typing biometrics. Enterprise is definitely the most important vertical and the hardest to get into for a start-up. However, it already constitutes a big part of our business.

FB: In terms of behavioral biometrics and the behavioral biometrics market in general there was a recent report that it will reach $3.9 billion by 2025 so it is definitely moving very quickly as most of our industry is, what do you see next as the most exciting development to come from behavioral biometrics?

Raul Popa, CEO, TypingDNA: There are a number of reports that agree on the number, but I really think that typing biometrics in particular is greatly underestimated. I think it is potentially a much larger business. And that is because people are typing now more than ever; they are communicating through typing now more than they are communicating by speaking; 80 percent of millennials prefer typing to talking. I have an 11-year-old daughter and even if I’m in the same room as her, she would rather WhatsApp me than talk to me. I think that is something we have to think about more because our interaction with devices and other people changes. As people become more literate, they move to a faster, better way of communication – and that is typing. We are the ones that help make all typing-based communications more secure. TypingDNA is really focused on that because typing is going to be a primary channel for communication whether it is with devices or other people.

For behavioral biometrics in general, I think once the world sees a few large-scale orchestrated effects, apps will start implementing behavioral biometrics quickly. There is no other way right now; attacks are growing exponentially compared to five years ago when there wasn’t really a market. Passwords are becoming more and more complex and we don’t remember them and we end up using the same one over and over again and we use password managers to store them. Let’s say you travel to another country and all of your devices are stolen and you have no data to show Google or whatever service you are trying to use that you are you. You don’t know your account number, you don’t have your password or a phone to receive an SMS, you don’t have the same computer and you are entering from a completely different location. Even most behavioral biometrics would have a hard time to prove it is you. But typing biometrics can work on other devices and hence can help confirm your identity.

FB: Yes, that is definitely moving towards a frictionless experience.

Raul Popa, CEO, TypingDNA: I think both typing and voice authentication are underestimated at this point when we are talking about behavioral biometrics in general.

FB: What is next for TypingDNA? What are you looking forward to in 2019 for your company?

Raul Popa, CEO, TypingDNA: We would like to focus our efforts on bringing our technology to as many users as possible. Until now we have developed the technology, we have showed that it works, we have put it into production with a number of clients and we have started a few important partnerships. Now is the time to accelerate and deploy with more banks, more enterprise clients, and of course keep building our partnerships with companies like Optimal IdM. We believe that we can make typing biometrics mainstream and that is really our focus for the next year or so.

FB: Well thank you Raul, it was a pleasure to speak with you today.

Attendees at the upcoming RSA Conference can experience a  live demo of TypingDNA’s technology Optimal IdM’s booth number #5685.