Digital DNA: The Difference Between Device Intelligence and Digital Identity

Posted January 3, 2018

Digital DNA: The Difference Between Device Intelligence and Digital Identity

I’m often asked if digital identity is just a marketing term for device intelligence. I can assure you that it’s not.

In fact, it’s so much more.

Out of Context?

Both approaches focus on reducing fraud, but digital identity provides something that traditional device intelligence simply can’t deliver – a full assessment of the context behind a transaction and the risk an individual or device may represent.

Why is that important? Well, this context helps businesses move beyond questioning the identity of the individual on the other end of a transaction and toward the development of trust. Once trust is established, transactions can be accepted without any further actions, such as two-factor authentication – even when a device isn’t recognized.

Of course, this helps businesses deliver an exceptional customer experience, which is critically important for the nearly 92 percent of customer transactions that we know are legitimate.

While device intelligence does capture data about a device’s operating system, it’s device ID, and other static information limited to that specific device, that isn’t enough to distinguish a legitimate user from a fraudster.

After all, in a world where businesses are surrounded by cybercriminals who can nefariously tap into thousands of devices via malware and instantly create hundreds of virtual devices, device intelligence simply doesn’t deliver the context or the user experience that digital businesses need to grow profitably through digital channels.

Making the Perfect Match

Think of it this way. Imagine a physical passport being cross-referenced to your biological DNA and the continuous impact of everyday life, your activities and the environment has on it. Various markers in the make-up of that DNA would then be traceable to the passport and, by association, to the individual. Digital DNA works in much the same way.

These digital data markers come from every transaction you make, from the truth data you provided to a business when you opened your account, and from various offline attributes, such as a physical address, shipping details and more — even if they change over time.

And all of this can be used to make a positive match, much like the markers of your biological DNA.

Of course, when businesses apply logic on top of this data in the form of policy rules, it becomes even more useful to your business. After all, when you can tailor your trust preferences, you can assemble a whole range of paths for the customer to travel along – instead of sending them down the clumsy path of out-of-band authorization.

The Multi-Device Dilemma

What makes this context even more vital is your customers’ fascination with the latest and greatest devices available, as well as their growing habit of accessing multiple email accounts or websites from different locations, including while traveling for business or recreation.

After all, consumers currently average nearly four connected devices per person. And that number is only going to grow. It is estimated that average person in North America will have 13 networked devices by 2021.

Unfortunately, many businesses still struggle to identify the user behind a new device, even if it is a returning customer. So, many businesses take the easy way out and push the task of authentication onto customers, forcing them to prove they are who they say they are. A full 74 percent of companies that have deployed these types of out-of-band authentication mechanisms say they receive complaints about it, and nearly 10 percent of their users flat-out hate it.

Apparently, customers don’t appreciate being treated like criminals. And they don’t need to be anymore — not when there is digital identity.

Quite simply, digital identity takes all of this data, and applies advanced machine learning and behavioral analytics to pinpoint related digital markers. A match or convergence of these markers results in a legitimate identity. If the markers diverge, it could indicate an imposter. What’s more, a digital identity grows stronger over time with each new transaction and its associated data.

That’s what makes a digital identity the ideal solution for authenticating users in the anonymous online world.

So, do you still think digital identity is just a marketing term?

To learn more about what makes up a digital identity, be sure to check out The Definitive Guide to Digital Identity. This new online resource is designed to further the understanding of digital identity as an important new form of user verification and authentication in digital channels.

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