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Identity Controls Access; Access Provides Opportunities

-by Kuljit Singh and Mayur Bansal

The fact of who or what, a person or a thing is, is a definition of identity; which simply indicates a confirmed way of identifying a person. And one of the reasons for having, or giving an identity, is to help the person get what is his / hers, or what he / she deserve; that is, help the person have "access" to his / her things. But, in a world where fakes and counterfeits are everywhere, why should identity be an exception? And the identity becomes the victim, most often, in the virtual world. Banks have always been a Holy Grail for hackers, and one of the routes to get to that Holy Grail, has been assuming others' identities (euphemism for identity theft).

This fascination of hackers has thrown a challenge to banks - to ensure that only the right people get the right access, to the right resources. And further ensure that they do the right thing with those rights and resources. The management of this conundrum is called Identity Access Management (IAM). The reason banks or financial institutions need IAM is because any breach, dereliction, or plain neglect, can have cataclysmic consequences in the form of revenue loss, higher operating costs, and damaged reputation.

For instance, a malware called "Carbanak," which allowed hackers to surreptitiously install spyware on more than 100 banks' computer systems, has said to cost banks $1 billion - apart from the reputation and credibility lost, not only of targeted banks, but also of the industry as a whole.

So, in the game of one-upmanship, where hackers try to outdo banks' security, and the banks' efforts to keep the interferences from hackers to a minimum - if not obliterate it completely - the technology companies completely sided with banks. They have also been acting as guardians of the financial galaxies, by coming up with new ways and systems to verify people using PINs, passwords, fingerprints, voice, retina, even veins and other biometric sensed identifications. These technologies not only check the infringements by hackers, but at the same time, provide confidence to customers, and keep their faith in the entire banking system intact.

The cases in point - ING Bank is introducing voice-activated mobile payments, and many banks in Brazil are using veins to identify a person. Similar biometric systems have been adopted by many others.

With the combination of biometrics for identification, and security features for robustness, technology has been trying to retain the faith of customers in their banks and other financial institutions. This, in turn, has helped tide-over the heavy weather that was created by hackers.

Since hackers are not going away anytime soon, protecting the interests of banks, governments, and customers, will continue to be a field full of action for the foreseeable future. If we want to put a dollar-value to this opportunity, the MarketsandMarkets report on Identity Access Management estimates that the IAM market will grow to be US $18.3 billion, by 2019. This is an opportunity for us to train hard, and attain excellence, as true leaders do.

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