SIM card registration strengthened through biometrics

 The vast majority of the world now owns a mobile device. According to a recent survey conducted by Delliote, mobile phone penetration is at 91% in developed countries and 90% in developing countries. Mobile devices are now a vital aspect of modern life. Without mobile devices, individuals are limited in their ability to participate in today’s economic and social activities. Besides communication, the modern mobile device allows you to pay bills, shop and even have an eCommerce business.  

Every mobile device contains a physical SIM card, a smart card inside a mobile phone, carrying an identification number unique to the owner, storing personal data, and preventing operation if removed.  Pre-paid SIM cards are preferred by many mobile phone users. According to GSMA, 73% of mobile subscriptions globally are pre-paid. In Africa, 94% of mobile subscriptions are pre-paid. In Central America it is 87%, in Asia 79%, Southern America 68%, Europe is 50%, and in North America 21% of mobile subscriptions are pre-paid.  

The high prevalence of pre-paid SIM card has led to a global trend towards SIM swap fraud. SIM swap fraud occurs when a fraudster takes over someone’s phone number and has it transferred to a SIM card that they are in possession of. To accomplish this, they will contact the victim’s mobile phone company and convince them they are the legitimate SIM card owner. Once achieved, the hacker has access to important and private data belonging to the original SIM card owner. Multi-factor authentication involving SMS code verification can easily be bypassed since the hacker now has control of the phone number. This is extremely dangerous as SMS code verification are typically used as one of multiple authentication factors, as a backup authentication option or as an account recovery method.   

Since the scam emerged in 2015, the number of fraud cases associated to the scam has increased by 400%. Criminals stole over USD 100 million in cryptocurrencies by hijacking phone numbers. A total of 8 criminals have been arrested on 9 February as a result of an international investigation into a series of sim swapping attacks targeting high-profile victims in the United States. As a result, the FBI and UK’s National Fraud Intelligence Bureau are calling for more complex forms of authentication (e.g. biometric technology) to be introduced.  

SIM card registration

To combat the issue of SIM swap fraud, many countries are requiring their citizens to register their SIM cards. Governments that require pre-paid SIM card registration require the wireless operator to capture personal information upon the purchase of a pre-paid SIM card and keep the records, sharing information with government agencies on demand. While it is unlikely that SIM registration will be able to reduce fraud on its own, it can form a solid basis for systems that will combat fraud.  

Biometrics technology and its benefits

Biometric technology allows for stronger authentication methods and is gaining rapid adoption across various industries. Biometric technology consists of body measurements and calculation related to unique human characteristic (i.e; face, fingerprint or palm, voice, and iris or retina). Since these characteristics are unique, it makes biometrics a more secure method for identity verification. Additionally, various biometric modalities can make the technology touchless meeting the increased consumer demand for contactless solutions. 

Combatting issues using technology and innovation to solve problems is a recurring theme for many organizations. This year, Mobile World Congress aims to tackle issues concerning SIM card fraud.  

Mobile World Congress Los Angeles 2021

Mobile World Congress Los Angeles gathered key wireless industry stakeholders and U.S policymakers to discuss trends and developments in government and public policy, as well as explore readily available technology to tackle problems concerning mobile devices. This three-day event showcased the latest technology, thought leadership and cutting-edge exhibitions.  

Aware participated as a “Theme Supporting Sponsor” in the “Disruptive Innovation” track with Chris Koeneman, VP of Sales and Marketing, as a panel speaker on October 26th 

Combat SIM card fraud with biometrics

Government agencies looking to integrate biometrics technology to ensure national security and further combat fraud associated with SIM cards, the Knomi® mobile biometric authentication framework is the way to go. With Knomi, governments that conduct SIM card registration will be able to accurately identify its citizens. Knomi uses mobile devices to conduct biometric enrollment and authentication with the Knomi framework. The Knomi framework provides secure and convenient facial and speaker recognition for mobile, multifactor authentication.  

 If you are in Los Angeles, make sure you stop by booth #1735 to learn more about how Knomi can assist with SIM card registration, or contact us below.  

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