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Starting a new chapter with behavioral biometrics

It is natural to be worried when your competitor gets robbed of US$3 million dollars from nine thousand customers. This worry brings forth the need to prepare against such attacks. Of course, I am referring to the recent cyber theft at Tesco Bank in Scotland. Tesco Bank's competitor Natwest Bank is putting its faith in behavioral biometrics to deal with such attacks. NatWest is not alone in doing so. Many other banks have also been enamored with behavioral biometrics and are trying to make it a part of their digital defense mechanism.

Though both physical and behavioral biometrics are related to humans, there is a difference between the two. Physical biometrics involves innate human characteristics such as fingerprints, retina, etc.; whereas behavioral biometrics involves identifying, collecting, and analyzing the measurable pattern of human activities. In banking, it would translate into measuring and analyzing how one is holding one's mobile, the rhythm of one's keyboard strokes, typographical errors, etc. Through the analysis of such data, an outline and description of each customer is made and used each time the customer is using digital banking services. This helps in minimizing false positives and making authentication more effective.

The advantage that behavioral biometrics has over physical biometrics is that it needs just one-time verification, whereas physical biometrics needs continuous verification through ceaseless analysis of customer behavior.

It is still not a perfect solution. Issues such as lack of accuracy, which is said to be around 80 percent, is a problem along with the lack of analytical capabilities. There are also challenges in identifying the behavior of a person accurately when he/she is in distress due to a physical accident, or inebriated. Difficulties are huge, but so are the opportunities. That is why, US-based NOW Money, Israel-based Leumi Card, IT players like IBM, and many others are working on increasing the accuracy of this technology, which would make it more usable and secure to use.

In conclusion, behavior biometrics may not be a silver bullet, but it is still an important weapon to combat the incessant struggle for cyber security. Advancements in technology could make this the next big thing, not only for identification but also for understanding customers. 

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