Mobile Identity: Establishing the Mobile Phone as “Trust Anchor”

With TeleSign helping customers secure more than 3.5 billion end user accounts today, it's clear that the mobile device has become a de-facto tool for verifying user identities and helping secure online accounts from compromise. But this is really just the beginning of the “Mobile Identity” story.

Today, Web and mobile apps around the world leverage user verification to increase assurance of a user's identity and attach a legitimate phone number to users' accounts during account registration. This not only keeps fraudsters from creating false accounts to use for spamming or other malicious purposes, but also helps keep end user accounts secure from compromise over time.

The way these apps do this is by sending a one-time passcode via SMS message or voice call to the user's mobile phone to verify the identity of user and the legitimacy of their phone number. This then creates a “trust anchor” or link between the user's account and their mobile device that can be a powerful tool for helping keep that user's account secure in the future as well.

TeleSign customers have been using this method of verification for years and it has now become standard practice for the largest Web and mobile apps on the planet. Where the innovation has come recently is in using real-time intelligence and reputation information on phone numbers to further help increase assurance and reduce risk.

This aspect of Mobile Identity happens behind the scenes and is transparent to the end user, but is an extremely powerful way of aiding in the verification process. At TeleSign, we provide our customers the tools to make risk decisions in real-time using a combination of phone data attributes, such as phone type, carrier, and device status, and reputation information based on activity patterns across our global customer base.

A key goal of Mobile Identity is to continually increase the assurance level of that “trust anchor” between the users' account and their mobile device. The result is that legitimate users gain access more easily and with less friction, while potential fraudsters get identified and stopped at every attempt.

As the Mobile Identity landscape continues to expand, one of the best new sources of data for detecting potential fraud will be the mobile phone itself.  Working directly with mobile operators, and with the user's consent, TeleSign can use mobile data to check for fraud indicators, likelihood of account takeover and other factors that could affect the security and integrity of a person's online accounts.

By bringing together mobile operators, banks, Web and mobile apps, and others who rely on the mobile phone as a trust anchor, TeleSign is helping drive Mobile Identity forward and create a new ecosystem that will become the future for how users transact safely – both online and offline.

I'll be covering this topic in more detail at Mobile Commerce and Banking 2015 in London on April 20-21, 2015. Hope to see you there!

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