Innovations in Cybersecurity: What Investors Need to Know

By Bob Eckel, CEO of Aware, Inc.

Cybersecurity innovations are improving the ways organizations protect their assets, privileged data, and employees. Now is an opportune time to consider investing in these innovations, especially as digital attacks grow more and more sophisticated and the global cybersecurity addressable market is projected to reach at least $1.5 trillion. It’s a rapidly-growing market, one that places a high emphasis on staying one step ahead of both the competition and the opposition, especially as the global and mobile workforce becomes more and more reliant on technology.

However, with a wide range of products currently on the market – and more continuing to emerge, keeping abreast of which innovations to consider investing in can be a challenge. Given this evolving landscape, below are some key cybersecurity trends to keep an eye on.

Zero Trust and Continuous Authentication

It’s nearly impossible to have a conversation about the future of cybersecurity without discussing the Zero Trust model. In the traditional perimeter model, users are authenticated once to access the network, while with many Zero Trust approaches users are continuously validated before being granted or keeping access to applications and data – often through tools like biometrics. Zero Trust means the age-old dilemma of balancing usability and security – using short enough session times to reduce risk while at the same time not causing too much user friction by asking users to log in constantly – becomes moot. In a world where users value convenience and speed over almost everything else, these sorts of solutions are only going to continue to rise in popularity.

Cloud-Based Biometric Solutions (BaaS)

Cloud-based cybersecurity solutions are continuing to receive a lot of attention thanks to the pandemic’s role in accelerating the shift towards Software as a Service (SaaS). As biometrics have become more popular due to trends like Zero Trust, cloud-based biometric solutions (also known as BaaS), for example, are evolving as a way for organizations of all sizes to offer secure, effective, frictionless authentication methods to users without the need for a significant up-front investment. The market opportunity here is that even small-and mid-sized businesses can now reap the benefits of biometrics, and there’s apt to be increasing interest in this area.

Liveness Detection

As modern authentication approaches become more mainstream including facial recognition and voice cloning, even more sophisticated types of attacks such as “presentation attacks” are becoming more prevalent. An example of a presentation attack would be an unauthorized person holding up a picture to a device in order to subvert a facial recognition system and gain unauthorized access to protected information.

That’s where liveness detection technology comes in. This innovative approach can verify people attempting to access sensitive information using their biometric data are, in fact, real, living human beings. Liveness detection can be active, requiring a user to do something that can’t be easily replicated by a spoof, or can use algorithms to detect indicators of a non-live image without any sort of interaction. Either way, this is a rapidly growing, always-improving area of cyber security technology that is worth keeping an eye on as attacks grow more sophisticated.

Decentralized Authentication

Decentralized authentication means there is no central authority needed to verify a person’s identity. In this model, users authenticate themselves to a neutral third-party only once, with proof of one’s identity (a digital identifier, or DID) then saved in an identity trust fabric (ITF) that may include blockchain technology. This ITF acts as a middleman between a user and all of his/her service providers, handling all identification and access requests. Any data held by the ITF is encrypted and encoded under complex mathematical operations, increasing security to levels the likes of which humankind has never before seen.

An example of decentralized authentication is crypto-biometrics – where biometrics are used as a DID to unlock access to, say, a bank account, without ever leaving the user’s device (i.e., there is no central repository of biometric info). Another example is breaking up biometric templates into thousands of random bits stored in various places throughout a network, so that even if a hacker were able to access a database, putting together composite images would be virtually impossible. Decentralized authentication is attractive to many individuals because it offers greater data protection and user control while addressing privacy concerns. Businesses like it because their compliance burden is reduced, i.e. there are no central databases in danger of being hacked, or data compromised.

In conclusion, Zero Trust, BaaS, liveness detection and decentralized authentication are a few of the burgeoning areas of cybersecurity that are poised to make significant market impact in the coming years. Forward-looking investors would be well-advised to watch these spaces closely as they evaluate ongoing opportunities to strengthen and diversify their portfolios.

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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