A collaboration between AT&T, Verizon, Sprint and T-Mobile US to boost user authentication systems was tipped to significantly cut fraud and identity theft in the US.
The operators announced they are forming the Mobile Authentication Taskforce to beef up two-stage verification systems. The group will explore potential improvements including network-based device authentication, use of geo-location data and SIM card registration. It will aim to deliver the first updates in 2018.
In a statement, AT&T said the operators were pooling resources amid a growing threat caused by an increase in the number of passwords users must remember, and a rise in hackers’ ability to crack them.
Alex Sinclair, CTO of operator industry association GSMA, said the taskforce “has the potential to create impactful benefits for US customers” by helping to cut “fraud and identity theft, and increase trust in online transactions.”
He hinted the system devised by the operators could be deployed beyond the US, by working closely with the taskforce to ensure the “solution is aligned and interoperable with solutions deployed by operators.”
The operators are teaming up a little over a year after the US National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) called for changes to the current two-factor authentication model, Engadget reported. NIST was specifically interested in ending the use of SMS for out of band verification, for example requiring a user to enter a text code to prove their identity.
AT&T said all four US operators will contribute the necessary resources to develop a verification system which analyses data and activity patterns on the mobile networks to predict if users are who they say they are.
The group will aim to ensure wide acceptance for the service by collaborating with app developers and third parties.