IBM announced earlier today that it has patented a technique that helps online and cloud-based businesses detect and eliminate fraud. Through analysing the browsing behaviour of customers, the technology can verify whether the customer is actually who they say they are. How does it work, you might be wondering?

When customers access their bank account online, for example, they “subconsciously establish characteristics of how they interact with the website” – like clicking certain areas more than others; using their arrow keys instead of the mouse; tapping and swiping their smart devices in a certain way, etc. The technology will collect the behaviour of the user and will know when drastic changes occur. “Similar to how individuals recognize changes in the behavior of a family member or friend on the phone — even when the audio is fuzzy — by the words they use, how they answer the phone, their mannerisms, etc., IBM’s invention helps businesses analyze and identify sudden changes in online behavior,” the company said in its press release. What happens next is that if the technology recognizes a sudden change in behaviour, it then triggers a second authentication layer, such as a security question.

Describing the technology, Keith Walker, IBM Master Inventor and co-inventor on the patent, said,

“Our experience developing and testing a prototype, which flawlessly confirmed identities, shows that such a change would more likely be due to fraud, and we all want these sites to provide more protection while simultaneously processing our transactions quickly.”

Given that $3.5 trillion dollars are lost each year to fraud and financial crimes, and that business-to-customer ecommerce is expected to grow from $1.251 trillion in 2012 to $2.357 trillion by 2017 (a compound annual growth rate of 17.4 percent), technology like IBM’s will become increasingly important for retailers and customers alike. The technology would be valuable for companies across the Internet — rather than adding extra layers to enhance online security (which can often lead to lower conversion rates), the ideal scenario for companies is to have seamless technologies that combine ease of use with high online security.

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