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Your Next Online Purchase Could be Just a Wink Away

Article date: Wed, 22 Nov 2017 15:34 GMT

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As speed and security become increasingly important for online shoppers, retail technology experts claim passwords are on the way out and that paying with a wink is closer to reality than we think.

High-profile cyber-attacks have put security in the forefront of shoppers’ minds whilst parting with personal information and credit card details. Ahead of Black Friday and Cyber Monday, which bookend the busiest online shopping weekend of the year, a group of high-profile online retail and cybersecurity experts claim that paying with a wink could become the method of choice to authorise transactions.

Biometrics – including fingerprint and facial recognition – are already used in various applications and are attracting increasing interest amongst eCommerce websites looking to meet customers’ demands for enhanced security and speed.

The predictions were made at a recent panel discussion on cybersecurity in eCommerce at UKFast Campus in Manchester. The panel consisted of eCommerce agencies Space48 and CTI Digital, global eCommerce platforms Shopblocks and Magento, and global ethical hacking and cybersecurity firm, Secarma.

Opening the discussion Jonathan Bowers, Managing Director of UKFast Enterprise, said: “eCommerce requires a huge amount of data; our names, addresses and credit card details. More people now see this as a concern but how do we keep safe when traditional six digit passwords are no barrier for cybercriminals?”

Paul Harris, Managing Director of Secarma, answered: “Our ethical hackers crack six digit alpha-numeric passwords in seconds. The longer they are, the harder it is for hackers to decipher, but it also becomes more difficult for people to remember. So it’s natural that the industry is looking for more effective alternatives.”

As eCommerce platforms look for easier ways to give users a friction-free experience, the experts predict that passwords may become obsolete within the next ten years.

Jonathan Ward from CTI Digital said: “There is often a trade-off between security and speed; having visible security creates that level of trust for a customer, but having too many steps means more blocks, increasing the chances of basket abandonment. That’s why the rush to biometrics is accelerating.”

But the prediction that we may all soon be using our unique features to complete a speedy online checkout comes with a warning.

Secarma’s Paul Harris said: “Biometrics is a hot topic of discussion within the cybersecurity industry and we’re sure to see them being used more and more in eCommerce. If your password is compromised you change it, but what do you do if your fingerprint or iris is compromised?

"Retailers need to treat the security around biometric data with a huge amount of responsibility It’s more difficult to change your fingerprints than your password!”

For now at least, passwords are the most commonly used method of proving credentials. The advice from the experts is – choose a passphrase.

Kevin Jones, CEO of Shopblocks, said: “Tell a story in your password; something like, ‘How good is the cold side of the pillow?’ The problem is a lot of websites stipulate how long your password should be. There needs to be an agreement about what a password should look like for security.”

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