Biometric authentication is advancing quickly, with talk about new methods in the works to restrict and permit access to devices and accounts
Romanian startup TypingDNA, which aims to augment current authentication mechanisms like passwords, announced last week that they had raised an undisclosed figure in their latest financing round. The round was led be Gecad Ventures with money also coming from Adrian Gheara, Alexandru Negrea, Lucian Todea, and Dan Mihaescu.
Using machine learning algorithms that recognize users by their manner of typing — known alternatively as “keystroke dynamics” or “biometric typing” — they can identify users by typing speed, movements and possibly keypad pressure. This allows them to detect remote access hacks or attempts by an unauthorized user to use a machine.
They have participated in MVP Academy, Hub: raum Accelerators, and Microsoft Bootcamp, according to capital.ro (Romanian).
“We managed to develop an innovative technology with multiple applications in fields such as e-learning, e-banking, corporate and much more,” TypingDNA Co-Founder and CEO Raul Popa said in a statement. “By partnering with an investment fund, such as Gecad Ventures, and by involving some investors with entrepreneurial experience in the IT and cyber-security field we can maximize the potential of this technology.”
Replacing passwords or reinforcing them?
The keystroke dynamics market is forecast to have an $800 million value by 2020 according to Global Industry Analytics. There are some other small startups trying to make headway in the business. Others include Israeli company BioCatch, German startup KeyTrac and Sweden’s BehavioSec. BehavioSec has already over $8 million according to Crunchbase, while BioCatch claims to have pulled down $20 million thus far.
There has been some suggestion that biometric authentication might be used to replace passwords, though talk from TypingDNA and other companies seems to stop short of that.
“Passwords, face unlock, fingerprint and so on are easy to be replicated/stealed. But your behavior is very hard, if not impossible, to be replicated,” Popa said back in July. “The fundamental of TypingDNA is the technology we built around typing biometrics security.”
Still others in the industry typically imply or explain that continuous authentication methods, including typing, would augment passwords and other security methods. When asked directly by Geektime, BioCatch VP of Marketing Frances Zelazny noted that “Most organizations use BioCatch to augment their existing security measures. It is used for continuous authentication, fraud prevention and criminal behavior detection to prevent new account fraud.”
There were reports earlier this year that Google was trying to get away from reliance on passwords, which have several security vulnerabilities (never mind the fact many users often forget them). Their plan relies on research from biometric-focused Project Abacus, which will switch to algorithmic authentication from Google’s increasingly relied-upon two-step authentication which users find inconvenient.
“We have a phone, and these phones have all these sensors in them. Why couldn’t it just know who I was, so I don’t need a password? I should just be able to work,” explained Daniel Kaufman, head of Google’s research unit ATAP (Advanced Technology and Projects), earlier this year.
TypingDNA was founded earlier this year by Raul Popa, Cristian Tamas, and Adrian Gheara.