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Well begun is half done: How telecoms can provide seamless mobile authentication

Well begun is half done: How telecoms can provide seamless mobile authentication
Divya Sharma - Senior Manager | September 15, 2017
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The internet is now all pervasive and changing our lives for the better.

However, with this increasing digital sophistication, the average number of online accounts per user doubles every 5 years [1]. In fact, digital security is still based on the historical standard of unique user IDs and passwords.

Now imagine 2020, when:

  • The average number of accounts per user will skyrocket to 207
  • Users will need to juggle multiple combinations of user credentials
  • Hackers will make even more sophisticated password decoding algorithms

Even our passwords stuffed with alphanumeric and special characters and combined with obscure facts like your dog’s name and birth year will be cracked in a jiffy!

Digital security doesn’t just frustrate users; it hurts the bottom line:

  • 31% – Drop-off rate at login screens
  • 63% – Login failures due to forgotten credentials
  • 46% – Purchases abandoned due to authentication issues

The internet fraternity is trying to solve digital security problems in the following ways:

Social logins – Many consumer-facing sites allow users to ditch logins and passwords and use popular social networking services for user authentication, including Gigya, Janrain, OneAll, and LoginRadius, among others. The benefits for users and businesses aren’t just limited to a seamless login experiences; they include more personalized experiences with targeted content.

Biometric authentication – A wide variety of organizations have adopted this as part of the increasingly-complex multi-factor authentication; since most people feel it is a frictionless smartphone and wearable login. The Indian Aadhaar project alone will give 1.2 billion residents a secure, unique identity using fingerprints and IRIS patterns.

Password manager - Programs (and utilities in the most popular browsers) that store and encrypt all your passwords, so you need to remember only one master password. These include EKeePass, Dashlane, and 1Password, among others.

There are many other digital security strategies, including using a mobile number as your user ID with a one-time password (OTP) and an email as your user ID with an emailed web link to authenticate.

In a nutshell, flawless authentication depends on a highly secure method without traditional, single-site passwords.

Keeping these fundamentals in mind, let’s consider smartphone users. Estimates predict a 10% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) from 2016-2022 and that smartphones will make up 90% of mobile data traffic by 2022.

Smartphones will make up 90% of mobile data traffic by 2022

Also, users are using their mobile number as their primary form of ID in many places such as Uber, Twitter, Facebook, and Lyft.

Users are using their mobile number as their primary form of ID in many places such as Uber, Twitter, Facebook

Can mobile numbers be the holy grail of secure and seamless authentication?

Telecom Service Providers’ (TSP) mobile phone networks are uniquely positioned to realize this goal, due to the existing infrastructure wherein’:

  1. A WAP-enabled mobile phone sends data packets with digital information to mobile phone towers.
  2. Towers can then extract packet header details to verify the mobile number.
  3. The verified number is then sent back as an encrypted message.
  4. The phone user is securely and silently authenticated.

Telecom service providers carry significant digital information including user details {ranging from personally identifiable information (PII) to preferences} which can be used to create a complete and portable user profile.

Users feel even more secure when consenting to transmit these personal details.

TSPs in the US market also have an added edge. Devices here are designed to TSPs’ specifications enabling the collection of even more details about consumers’ usage patterns.

The benefits are clear. Mobile number authentication is:

  • Secure
  • Private
  • Easy to use
  • Anonymous
  • Widely trusted

TSPs not only reap the benefits of simple, secure authentication with mobile number ID; when combined with other forms of authentication, there are tremendous benefits to businesses across industries and business models. Enterprises and consumers also benefit in many ways-

Personalization – Rendering customized mobile content based on user interests can be simplified. Personalization could become a pivotal part of TSP revenue models:

Personalization could become a pivotal part of TSP revenue models

  • Creating more engagement and conversions by delivering content based on observations across different channels
  • Providing a consistent experience for online and retail stores
  • Giving users relevant deals based on activity graphs and geo-fencing
  • Enabling one-click checkout for any ecommerce transaction
  • Offering location-based services for hotels and other venues; replacing keys and credentials with users’ handsets

Portable data: As 5G makes in-roads, data consumption will increase exponentially. TSPs can rework data strategies with mobile number authentication so users can:

  • Save content across devices in the cloud e.g. pics, videos, etc.
  • Get flexibility from a single data plan that applies to all their devices
  • Subscribe to innovative data plans that cater to their specific data type needs

Digital identity: In order to move physical transactions to the online world, trust in digital identities requires:

  • An aggregated user reputation across all sites and apps
  • Extending Mobile Number authentication infrastructure to PKI infrastructure to simplify digital certification Collaboration with Blockchain to ensure trust across distributed transactions

Internet of Things: Identities need to be extended effortlessly to users’ ecosystems of connected devices:

  • Family members can be recognized by connected homes to provide an environment personalized to their tastes
  • Connected cars can help insurance companies base insurance on usage of different new, rental, and pre-owned cars

The potential of these uses is staggering.

However, this online harmony will not be reached if telecom service providers do not work together.

All TSPs must work collaboratively to adopt mobile numbers as the new online authentication standard to realize this dream. They can establish an industry consortium, or select an intermediary to ensure that all providers work together to execute this vision. HCL is perfectly positioned to coordinate this important initiative.

All TSPs must work collaboratively to adopt mobile numbers as the new online authentication standard

More telecom infrastructure standards need to be defined or adopted to enable seamless authentication across all service providers, such as OpenID Connect and a common platform for all TCPs.

More Telecom infrastructure standards need to be defined or adopted to enable seamless authentication

Apart from outlining telecom infrastructure standards, mobile numbers can be used as truly universal IDs across all digital platforms. However, more authentication security measures are needed. These measures will be covered in an upcoming blog.

Mobile numbers can be used as truly universal IDs across all digital platforms

HCL is excited about the opportunity to lead the way to this new standard. With $500M+ revenue from the telecom, media & entertainment industries HCL is the preferred service provider in this space.

HCL’s Mode-1, 2, 3 strategy is perfectly in line to become the backbone of TSPs:

HCL’s Mode-1, 2, 3 strategy is perfectly in line to become the backbone of TSPs

  • Mode-1 would ensure robust foundation with Application and Infrastructure support services
  • Mode-2 Digital & Analytics will help design and build the mobile number-based authentication and business onboarding platform with user-centered design principles. HCL Dynamic Cybersecurity Framework will offer full-spectrum, dynamic security services to combat ever-escalating threats.
  • Mode-3 will bring in the best of the partners in identity and access management

Mobile number authentication is the obvious answer to TSPs’ incessant quest for more revenue streams that help sustain bottom lines.

Mobile number authentication is the obvious answer to TSPs’ incessant quest for more revenue streams

Mobile ID bridges the gap between the physical and digital world with:

  • Next-gen security
  • One identity
  • Cross-platform availability
  • Frictionless authentication
  • Personalized experience

HCL is geared and properly placed to support TSPs in bringing authentication into the future.

References

  1. https://blog.dashlane.com/infographic-online-overload-its-worse-than-you-thought/
  2. https://www.ericsson.com/en/mobility-report/latest-mobile-statistics
  3. http://www.gartner.com/newsroom/id/3431619
  4. https://www.hcltech.com/our-mode-1-2-3-strategy
  5. https://www.hcltech.com/digital-analytics-services
  6. https://www.hcltech.com/cyber-security-grc-services
  7. http://advantagemagazine.ca/2015/fusionpipe/
  8. https://blog.dashlane.com/infographic-online-overload-its-worse-than-you-thought/

Thanks to

  • Verizon Labs team
  • Gaurav Gupta, Associate Technical Director, Verizon Labs

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