ThreatMetrix ID: The Digital Identity Journey

Posted October 16, 2017

ThreatMetrix ID: The Digital Identity Journey

According to Big Bang theory, the entire universe has been on an evolutionary journey for the past 13.8 billion years.

Thankfully, the evolutionary journey for our latest breakthrough, ThreatMetrix ID™, didn’t take quite as long – only nine years. But, for us, it has been a journey filled with voyage and discovery.

ThreatMetrix ID is the world’s first unique, anonymous customer identifier that revolutionizes digital authentication and fraud prevention. It unites online and offline attributes in real time, enabling organizations to establish the true digital identity of their customers.

But, before we can take an in-depth look at this groundbreaking technology, it is important to look back at how this journey began.

The Way Back Machine

On a much smaller scale, there was a “big bang” for us, and it happened back in 2007. That was the year we invented SmartID. This was a critical development as it gave digital businesses the ability to identify returning devices, even if the user wiped their cookies, used private browsing or changed some other parameters.

Before this, authentication fraud systems were device blind. Since then, we’ve been working on how to build this core intelligence into a solution that looks beyond just device information, and analyzes the context of a transaction more holistically. After all, devices are still susceptible to spoofing and social engineering, and device data alone can lack context and behavioral history.

Device identification was certainly the first cog in the wheel, but many more cogs were needed to make the wheel turn perfectly. These cogs included location information, anonymized identity data, behavioral profiling and threat intelligence. The combination of these key components built up genuine digital identity intelligence that provided a holistic approach to better understanding user identity.

Understanding the digital DNA of users and their unique online footprint can knit together trusted digital identities that fraudsters can’t fake. Fraudulent behavior became far easier to detect, as the digital footprint of a fraudster is often markedly different from a trusted user.

This digital identity intelligence gave businesses great clues as to the true identity of a user, helping pull back the curtain of anonymity inherent in the digital economy.

Getting to Know You

It also led us to where we are today with ThreatMetrix ID, which puts the least common denominator from the device back to the identity.

This is critical in today’s digital economy where businesses have a single user interacting with them using multiple different identities, and through multiple use cases and activities, as well as using multiple different touchpoints and channels for those activities.

While there are other organizations attempting to resolve a consumer identity, the concept of ThreatMetrix ID is fundamentally different. This digital identifier is built around the complex relationships between transactions and other identity attributes containing one or more of the same pieces of anonymized data from online and offline channels. This includes devices, user names, email addresses, payment card information, IP addresses and more. Over time, these relationships evolve and coalesce to form a clear picture of every transacting user. Businesses also receive a confidence score on the authenticity of that digital identity during each transaction.

ThreatMetrix ID enables organizations to truly understand their customers and their behavior – what is abnormal; what isn’t; what is a good customer behavior – and provides a visualization and a confidence score that helps you tune policies appropriately.

Oh, the Places You’ll Go

We’ve really just begun this journey with ThreatMetrix ID, and our roadmap for 2018 and beyond is really exciting.

We’re unleashing the power of consortiums, where businesses within a specific industry or segment that share high-level trust can opt-in to share information about attacks and have a confidence level to decision on that information.

We’re going to employ champion challenger models to make sure your deployment of ThreatMetrix solutions and your data analysts are so much more productive. We’re also moving toward customer-driven machine learning, giving customers the power to test models and to iterate models, for example.

And, we’ve only begun to scratch the surface as to the many other applications for ThreatMetrix ID, including within the financial crimes and anti-money laundering spaces.

It has been exciting to witness the explosive adoption of mobile computing and the enormous growth of the digital economy in recent years. At the same time, this growth has also led to unique, sometimes unforeseen, challenges as cybercrime has grown and evolved almost in tandem with the digital economy.

But, the curtain of anonymity that cybercriminals have relied on for so long is now being removed, giving organizations a clear view as to who they are dealing with, as well as the confidence needed to safely grow their online business.

ThreatMetrix ID is a big step forward in helping secure the digital economy.

To learn about our unique approach to universal customer identity, read our new white paper on ThreatMetrix ID.

Alisdair Faulkner

Alisdair Faulkner

Chief Identity Officer, Business Services, LexisNexis Risk Solutions

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