The four biggest US mobile networks, AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon, have joined forces to form the Mobile Authentication Taskforce, and there's one goal: to replace passwords.

Announced this week, the Mobile Authentication Taskforce is formed of the four biggest mobile networks in the US, and its first public effort is Project Verify, an effort to 'change identity management and security, replacing passwords with more secure, device-based, multi-factor authentication'.

The Taskforce, which is staffed by and has the support of AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon, covering approximately 98 percent of the US mobile-using populace, has been formed in the wake of numerous security breaches - some of which, ironically, rely on the ability to fraudulently convince a mobile provider to port a mobile number to a new SIM without the owner's permission, allowing the attacker to take advantage of insecure SMS-based second-factor account recovery systems. Project Verify, they claim, will be significantly more secure.

'Despite the rise of online fraud and data breaches, consumers and businesses still rely on easily-forgotten and weak usernames and passwords. It’s time for a comprehensive solution that reduces friction, combats fraud, and builds trust. The Mobile Authentication Taskforce is building that solution now,' the Taskforce claims. 'The Project Verify solution will change identity management and security, replacing passwords with more secure, device-based, multi-factor authentication. Consumers will be in the driver’s seat, choosing what information they share. They simply log in with their mobile device — Project Verify does the rest.'

While technical details of Project Verify's solution have not yet been provided, the Taskforce explains that the system works in three ways: Account registration and login is supported by unique mobile network account and device details protected by network-level authentication; authentication and verification is handled 'through network intelligence by matching SIM cards to device owner details'; and data management is handled transparently with the user, not the Taskforce, in control of how information is shared and used.

The Taskforce has not yet indicated whether it plans to open the platform up to other US or international mobile providers. An early site, detailing the project as it stands in beta form, is available from Verizon.


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