Year in Review: BioCatch’s Frances Zelazny on Behavioral Biometrics in 2017

As part of the FindBiometrics Year in Review 2017 we approached industry executives and thought leaders to get their comments on the past 12 months in the biometrics industry, and what’s in store for 2018.

Year in Review: Frances Zelazny, VP Marketing, BioCatch on Behavioral Biometrics in 2017Going into 2017 there was a huge amount of excitement over behavioral biometrics, and over the course of the year we saw expectations met as the invisible authentication technology rose serve increasing demands for anti-fraud technology. Among the leaders in this space was behavioral biometrics company BioCatch.

For the 15th Annual FindBiometrics Year in Review we asked Frances Zelazny, Vice President of Marketing, BioCatch, to reflect on the highlights of 2017 for her company, and give us a glimpse of what’s to come over the next 12 months in our dynamic industry.

FindBiometrics: What are the biggest highlights for your organization from the past year?

Frances Zelazny, Vice President of Marketing, BioCatch: Back in January, Acuity Market Intelligence released its 2017 Top Ten Trends for Biometrics and Digital Identity. Ranking at the top of the list was that behavioral biometrics will become mainstream. And what a banner year, it turned out to be for us at BioCatch by every measure:

Use Cases – BioCatch pioneered the use of behavioral biometrics to prevent account takeover, by analyzing the human-device interactions to distinguish a legitimate user from an imposter inside a session after the log-in, be it another human or a non-human actor, like a bot or malware. Indeed, with 100 percent of fraud coming from authenticated sessions, this ability distinguishes BioCatch from the pack. But in 2017, we went further into tackling one of the greatest challenges of our time: preventing application fraud. With 9 billion records stolen since 2013, all PII is rendered public, and BioCatch fills the need to analyze an added layer which cannot be replicated or stolen, to prevent the use of stolen or synthetic identities in online applications.

Patents – We continue our culture and passion for advancing the capabilities of behavioral biometrics with a 35 precent increase in our patent portfolio. BioCatch ends the year with 54 patents that are granted or pending, cementing our position as the industry innovator. The broad patent portfolio differentiates BioCatch from other market players not just in numbers, but in the ability to collect and analyze a vast array of parameters – now more than 2000 from the mobile device, including Invisible Challenges – which translates into higher accuracy and adaptability to the ever-changing cybersecurity landscape.

Customers and Partnerships – BioCatch has extended its presence in key geographies, expanding the number of transactions to more than 5 billion per month, covering nearly 60 million users across its client base. In addition, we announced key partnerships with marquee players, including Nuance, Experian, Lexis Nexis and Samsung SDS, which makes it easier for financial institutions and other organizations to adopt behavioral biometrics and optimize its use within their workflows.

FindBiometrics: What, in your opinion, was the defining trend for the biometrics industry as a whole in 2017?

BioCatch: 2017 was the year that cybersecurity became a household term. The Equifax breach became a rallying cry for how widespread the problem of breaches and hacks had become. To be sure, that breach was not the biggest or the last, but it did affect more than 50 percent of the US population which drove the point that many of us in the biometrics industry have been talking about home. Since the Equifax breach was disclosed, Uber, Deloitte, SEC and plenty of other big names have also announced that their systems have been compromised. The fact is Personal Identifiable Information (PII) is no longer Personal (P), and that is driving more than ever the need and awareness for solutions like biometrics to authenticate users and prevent account takeovers after the login.

FindBiometrics: What are the main challenges you want to see the biometrics industry address in 2018?

BioCatch: The biometrics industry will have plenty of opportunity to address issues surrounding privacy and storage of data; the battle between on-device and cloud based approaches will continue. There will be other very significant challenges to address, namely:

Blockchain hacking: The Bitcoin distributed ledger survived many takeover attempts, but many organizations are now privately building blockchain-based technologies. Those are inherently less secure as anyone with the proper authorization can write into the chain, unlike in cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin where modifying the blockchain requires the investment of considerable resources. In 2018 we should see the first serious attempts to breach the trust in blockchain based networks, and we should all be reminded that the blockchain is only as secure as the endpoints.

Chatbot takeover: Everyone in the Fintech industry likes chatbots, those highly efficient automated or semi-automated channels for assisting users. In 2018, some financial institutions will begin using chatbots to facilitate payments, and this will lure cybercriminals who will impersonate good users and take over their accounts, possibly using remote access into the regular user PC to neutralize any device-based recognition.

Open Banking API attacks: New EU regulation scheduled to enter into effect by end of 2018 requires every bank to offer open APIs that can be used by any third party to initiate payments from their customers’ account. Once implemented, we can expect fraudsters to exploit this channel, attacking banks via third parties. It will be important for those third parties to work closely with the banks to protect their digital channels.  

FindBiometrics: What excites you most about the year to come in biometrics?

BioCatch: I am always excited about biometrics! And what I see now, particularly with behavioral biometrics, is that the modality is cementing its place as a leading solution to solve challenges that no other technology is able to do. When we talk about continuous authentication, in theory this can be done by asking a user to present a fingerprint or a token or SMS number every so often inside a session, but that is clearly not acceptable from a user experience. And with 100 percent of fraud occurring inside authenticated sessions, the only way to solve the problem is by passively analyzing the user behavior. Similarly, when we talk about adding another dimension to online credit applications that goes beyond looking at personal data that is entered, there are not many other options that can provide a level of assurance that will not generate an inordinate amount of false alarms. The market is ripe. These are exciting times for our company and our industry.

What is in store for BioCatch in 2018?

BioCatch: You will see BioCatch extend its capabilities to address the challenges that I have outlined here, working with other industry leaders and partners to redefine and protect digital identity. We will respond to our customers’ needs, help educate on the next generation of cyberthreats as we are on the front lines. And lend our expertise and know-how in protecting consumers. 2018 is poised to be a great year for us!


Stay posted to FindBiometrics in the coming weeks to see more year-end reflections and predictions from the biggest names in biometrics.

The 15th Annual FindBiometrics Year in Review is brought to you by Leidos.