Behavioral biometrics can add another barrier to account takeovers, putting us closer to a more secure digital world.

In cybersecurity, humans tend to be the weakest link. We are emotional and curious creatures, and are tempted to click on emails that promise us exclusive discounts or too-good-to-be-true shopping deals. You may well scoff at the well-known ‘Nigerian prince’ email scam, but such emails are still making the rounds online!

Today, cybersecurity solutions are sophisticated enough to sound the alarm and block unauthorized access in case of attempts to hack into an organization’s networks. But what happens in case of account takeovers?

These hackers are the proverbial ‘wolf in sheep’s clothing’, and while they look like they belong within the network, their behavior and activities speak volumes about who they are not—the real authorized user. By having information on how authorized users behave on a usual basis, any suspicious movements can trigger security teams to take a closer look into their activities and take action before it escalates.

From IoT to IoB

The collection of baseline behavior data is made possible by IoT devices, and such data can be analyzed to shed further light into human behavior. This knowledge extends Internet of Things to the Internet of Behaviors (IoB), which organizations can then use to bolster their cybersecurity posture.

Just like the IoT, which allows businesses to gather data from the billions of connected devices and turn it into intelligence, IoB attempts to synthesize data from users’ online activity from a behavioral perspective. Data analytics and machine learning can then monitor real-time behavior to gain insights for improving security and productivity. 

Through IoB, organizations can learn the exact point where their customers’ interest in a product begins, along with how and why they make purchasing decisions. The insights can then guide the forumulation of better go-to-market plans. In fact, Gartner has singled out IoB as one of nine strategic technology trends that will boost business resilience in the pandemic era.

Once firms start to tap into IoB, they can gain deeper insights into user preferences and boost personalization and customer experience. Similarly, the behavioral data of every individual consumer, delivered by IoB, can help security teams detect unauthorized access and suspicious activities by hackers, enabling them to activate security protocols at the earliest point of entry.

Hard-to-fake behavioral signatures

Traditional security measures are not bulletproof. There is the off chance that a cybercriminal manages to force their way into a user’s account. Here is where IoB can serve as an additional layer of security to lock these hackers out.

  • IoB and behavioral analytics capture more dynamic aspects of a user’s digital identity, and these behavioral “signatures” are harder to fake.
  • Through the use of behavioral biometrics, authentication software helps detect non-conformal use or suspicious activities in the account, which then alerts IT and security teams to restrict access to the account or prompts the real user to investigate.
  • Common behavioral signatures include typing rhythm, mouse movement, geolocation, type of device used, the usual pages and links accessed, and even walking speed.
  • Compared to adaptive security methods that constantly interrupt the user’s activity to verify their identity, behavioral analytics solutions work unobtrusively to continuously authenticate the user. This allows security to be enhanced without compromising usability for the platform or application.
  • Furthermore, behavioral analytics captures unique aspects of a user’s digital identity—not sensitive Personally Identifiable Information or biometrics that can point to a specific individual. This makes behavior-based authentication a preferred option for organizations to comply with data protection and privacy regulations.
  • Malware like bots; fraudsters with stolen credentials; and even those wielding remote access tools, all stick out like a sore thumb when viewed through the lens of behavioral biometrics—because emulating behavioral characteristics is close-to-impossible.

The future of digital identity

Given that digital identities are the backbone of digital life, the use of IoB analytics and machine learning deserves special attention.

Today, user behavior analytics is widely used in marketing, retail and banking. There is a huge opportunity for organizations to tap on IoB to strengthen their security posture.

While IoB and behavioral biometrics are by no means a silver bullet for eradicating data breaches, they add another barrier to prevent access to cybercriminals, putting us closer to a more secure digital world.