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User-friendly security in a connected world

New technologies bring new opportunities and new security threats. Tom Stinton believes customer experience is key to ensuring consumers heed new security requirements.

New technologies bring new opportunities and new security threats. Tom Stinton believes customer experience is key to ensuring consumers heed new security requirements.

User-friendly security in a connected world



11th July 2017

Tom Stinton

It’s the weekend and you’re out for the day in your new connected car. Like your smartphone, it’s linked to your bank account. As with Apple Pay and Android Pay, payments can be made using contactless technology with ease. You drive through the Dartford Tunnel. Your toll is paid as you pass the toll booth. No need to queue. No stress. You can drive on feeling nice and relaxed. You park up and your car connects wirelessly to the parking meter. Payment is automatic. You don’t have to worry about how long you’re going to be there. You return, jump in and drive off without a second thought.

The kids are in the back, watching films on your Netflix account. They’re quiet. It’s nice. It’s nearly little Jimmy’s birthday. You’ve already bought the latest Xbox. (It’s hidden where he won’t find it.) A poster pops up showing the one he wants: “Buy me a two terabyte Xbox One S,” he shouts out excitedly. Your car, hearing the command, places an order through your Amazon Prime account. “And Star Wars Battlefront,” he adds. “And, and, and … ”

Your car obliges without question!

Security needed

While the technology itself can create a great consumer experience, it’s vital that consumers implement extra layers of security to mitigate risk from their new car’s novel capabilities. After all, security features are there for a reason: to stop unwanted and fraudulent purchases, and to protect data.

We’ve talked about a car here, but this applies equally to any connected tech that’s linked to your bank account. That doesn’t just mean your tablet or smartphone, but also Alexa in the Amazon Echo (or any other smart digital assistant), your connected TV, fridge or any other connected device.

Consumers are aware that there is a need to improve their own data protection habits, but they need help to do that. They need a digital financial solution that’s easy to set up and easy to use. Consumers are already struggling with too many passwords and security codes. With an average UK citizen already registered on more than 90 accounts, according to password management company Dashlane, they don’t follow best practices on setting up unique, strong passwords and changing them regularly.

And if consumers feel managing their security is too complicated, they will simply bypass it and take shortcuts, or even choose not to set up any security at all if it’s too cumbersome. Of course, this will ultimately lead to unsafe behaviours. They need an alternative.

Is biometric security the answer?

Biometrics could hold the answer. Take our earlier scenario. As you drive through the tunnel, your car requests a PIN before the toll is paid. The security layer recognises the PIN and your voice, seamlessly paying the toll, and you carry on your journey as smoothly as before.

You park up and your car connects wirelessly to the parking meter. Your car requests your PIN to make the payment before you drive off. You still don’t have to worry how long you’re going to be there. The only difference is that now you need to say four little words before you drive off.

Then when Jimmy shouts, “Buy me a two terabyte Xbox One S,” the order won’t be placed automatically. You are better protected, without significant impact on your experience.

New technology required

Banks and other financial organisations do need to implement more robust security measures against hacking and cybercrime. After all, the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) that will come into force in 2018 will ensure financial institutions pay far more attention to security, as the punishments for neglecting data protection are going to be severe.

Since consumers’ natural inclination is to sidestep complicated processes wherever possible, the financial sector must make a greater effort to ensure increased cybersecurity technology is never to the detriment of a great and seamless digital customer journey.

Why not look at making better use of technologies such as biometrics? They can be more secure than traditional password and PIN technology, and more user friendly.

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