Mobile Task Force Develops Password-Free Security Tool

The four major U.S. carriers, working together in a task force launched earlier this year, announced a mobile login tool that they say could improve mobile security.

It’s not easy to get the four major mobile carriers to agree on anything—considering it’s a sector where competition is fierce. But earlier this year, AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon announced a joint security initiative called the Mobile Authentication Taskforce, in which the companies would work together to fight fraud and identity theft.

The initiative bore its first fruit last week with the announcement of Project Verify, which aims to combine authentication with secure network access so that users can log in securely without having to remember individual passwords.

Here’s how it works: Rather than tying a login to a phone number, as is typical with two-factor authentication, the service would connect it more gradually, through the use of a carrier identifier. The verification of the login would happen through the network, rather than through a third-party service like Google or Facebook.

The approach gets around one of the biggest problems that has faced two-factor authentication: the risk of spoofing, in which a hacker steals a person’s phone number for login purposes. Phone numbers, which for a time were the recommended method for tightening security, have grown increasingly susceptible to attacks, leading to an increased use of alternate tools, like physical security keys.

The task force highlighted a prototype of the mobile ID technology at GSMA’s Mobile World Congress Americas, the second edition of which was held last week in San Francisco.

In a news release, GSMA Chief Technology Officer Alex Sinclair noted that Project Verify dovetails nicely with carriers’ global efforts to improve security.

“This initiative expands upon our global operator initiative, Mobile Connect, to bring standardized authentication and identity services to the U.S. market,” Sinclair stated. “The solution aims to deliver a seamless experience for service providers from many sectors, helping to drive rapid adoption and scale.”

The mobile providers are currently looking into ways to launch the technology to their users.

(marchmeena29/iStock/Getty Images Plus)

Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a former senior editor for Associations Now. MORE

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