Aware: Leading Authentication Forward

Bob Eckel | President, and CEO
Bob Eckel | President, and CEO

When it comes to authenticating users for secure transactions, biometrics and multi-factor authentication have emerged as the standard. With traditional authentication methods such as passwords falling out of favor due to poor identity protection, products that incorporate biometric functionality and emphasize security are now crucial to successful Authentication Solutions Services.

Aware, Inc.—a trailblazer in the authentication space—ensures secure identity verification for virtually any use case by providing entire end-to-end software solutions that create a tailored business process to its customers’ needs.

Aware is a world-class, global authentication company that validates and secures identities using proven and trusted adaptive biometrics. A trusted provider of biometrics software, services, and solutions, Aware provides essential biometric and workflow capabilities for border management, law enforcement, defense, intelligence, citizen identification, banking, and payments.

In an interview with CIOLook, Bob Eckel, President, and CEO of Aware, Inc, talks about the importance of the Authentication Solutions Services industry and how Aware has established itself as the frontrunner in this industry.

Below are the highlights of the interview:

Please give us a brief overview of Aware, Inc., its mission, and the key aspects of its strong foothold in the Authentication Solutions Services industry.

Aware has been trusted by governments for three decades, but its expertise applies to the commercial space as well. We help organizations find the proper balance of security and friction for an experience that delights end users while ensuring compliance and protecting the organization.  Through authentication solutions that leverage the trusted security of biometric technology, we help solve everyday business challenges and protect the identities of end-users.

This is particularly vital in a world where data breaches and identity fraud are on the rise globally. Our portfolio of proven authentication solutions empowers people to protect and own their identities by replacing traditional, fraud-prone authentication methods (such as passwords) with the enhanced security and convenience of biometrics. With Aware’s offerings, users can control their digital identities through clear, intuitive opt-in/opt-out features, helping them feel secure and improving their lives.

Aware is trusted by more than 80 government agencies, 100 commercial leaders,  20 industry partners and 300+ law enforcement agencies in more than 20 countries worldwide. Commercial customers include many large banks and financial institutions where security and convenience are vital. To date, Aware’s technology has protected more than 83 million transactions worldwide.

Describe your top-notch offerings that address the need of your customers.

Aware’s portfolio consists primarily of the following trusted authentication offerings:

  • AwareID: A next-generation adaptive authentication platform for onboarding and authentication. AwareID offers lightning-fast identity, verification, multi-factor authentication, and biometrics in a single, low-code platform. Functional out of the box and available via subscription, AwareID is fully customizable and is available pre-configured for the most common use cases small-to-large businesses face every day. Providing secure, convenient authentication capabilities has typically only been available to large organizations with deep pockets and large IT teams. With AwareID, top-of-the-line authentication is now available to small to medium-sized businesses as well.
  • Knomi: A mobile biometric authentication framework. Knomi protects transactions from fraud and identity theft by providing mobile authentication capabilities such as face and voice authentication, passive liveness detection to protect against fraudsters, and robust document verification capabilities. Featuring the most prestigious industry compliance designations, Knomi provides organizations with a convenient, secure means to safely onboard and authenticate their users anywhere in the world.
  • BioSP: A market-leading biometric middleware platform. Featuring browser-based biometric enrollment, data, and workflow management, BioSP is effectively used by large employers for user enrollment at scale. Open and modular, BioSP integrates well into existing workflows and is well-suited for applications that require the collection, processing, and analysis of biometrics.
  • AwareABIS: A family of products that offer a wide array of biometric identification solutions for any sized civil or law enforcement community. The AwareABIS Automated Biometric Identification System (ABIS) supports fingerprint, face, and iris recognition for large-scale biometric identification, and its modular architecture helps security teams configure and optimize the system for virtually any law enforcement need.

What are the roadblocks that Aware, Inc. faces in the ever-changing landscape of the business world?

Aware faces many of the same macroeconomic headwinds that are affecting companies globally. Due to current market uncertainty, we have seen some customers defer their purchase decisions until there is more economic clarity. Disruptions in the global supply chain can also affect our customers and their ability to deliver products, which in turn impacts our sales. Customers can also be hesitant to fully launch new, leading-edge technologies such as ours beyond the initial pilot phase.

Nevertheless, we believe Aware is poised for continued success based on our healthy pipeline, accelerating customer adoption of our new software-as-a-service (SaaS) offering, AwareID, and robust balance sheet.

One misconception that we are trying to change is that biometrics represent a significant expense for businesses. Fears still exist that biometrics will involve lots of expensive, proprietary hardware and the need for significant IT resources, costing both time and money. The truth is that biometrics can be acquired and enabled through a mobile app using the cameras and microphones using the common smartphone and can be managed over the cloud (such as with AwareID) without the need for significant integration costs.

Thankfully, user acceptance of biometrics is moving in the right direction. With high-profile uses of biometrics becoming more and more prevalent (such as unlocking your smartphone with your face), people are growing more comfortable with the technology. In fact, Aware recently held an independent survey that found that user acceptance is increasing with each new generation, demonstrating increased acceptance in younger age groups.

What makes Aware, Inc. a preferred choice among your clientele over other competitors?

First and foremost, Aware is seen as an extremely trustworthy partner. This stems primarily from our long history (25+ years is long for a biometrics company) and established and proven presence in government agency solutions, a customer group that requires the highest levels of security. Our products have won multiple awards and are compliant with the highest industry standards. As far as biometric authentication providers go, Aware is among the most reliable options available.

Our company’s stability doesn’t mean that we don’t adapt to the latest trends or strive to set ourselves apart from the competition. We are proud to be leading the convergence of identity, biometrics, AI, and cybersecurity via an adaptive methodology that senses and response to changing market needs and unexpected challenges and as part of our culture to take smart chances.

Lastly, Aware prides itself on our strong customer relationships and on providing clients with the most easily integrated biometric offers available. We are proud to be the only provider that offers clients a rich suite of products that includes liveness detection, authentication, multi-modal automated biometric identification systems, integration-ready middleware, and biometric orchestration.

Describe the values that drive Aware, Inc.

Aware has five company values that help us deliver results for our customers:

  • Customer First: Understanding our customers’ needs, making sure we’re easy to do business with, and challenging ourselves to exceed customer expectations.
  • We are a Team: Owning our commitments while working collaboratively as a team to drive results.
  • My Inputs Matter: Communicating our points of view, speaking freely with others, actively listening, asking questions, and seeking feedback.
  • Take Smart Chances: Identifying the important things to work on every day and developing thoughtful solutions to drive quick, informed decisions and results.
  • Plan for Success: Being accountable, anticipating success, and planning for positive, successful results.

In your opinion, what could be the future of the Authentication Solutions Services industry, and how will Aware, Inc change its market orientation?

Today’s authentication solutions are stuck in the past. With data breaches and identity theft on the rise around the world, authentication solutions that rely on passwords are highly fraud-prone, and do a poor job of protecting peoples’ identities whether they’re placing a financial transaction, opening an account over the phone, or accessing digital files. These methods—particularly passwords—are increasingly inconvenient as well, with complicated character requirements and frequent resets that take time and cause frustration.

Modern authentication solutions must move on from these methods, especially as people live more and more of their lives online. As an industry, we must move away from authentication credentials that can be stolen, guessed at, or hacked. Instead, we need to move toward a method that presents little to no opportunity for fraud, and it is our belief that biometric technology is the best available option. Because biometrics rely on a person’s unique physical characteristics instead of something that can be stolen or guessed, they are inherently more secure. Additionally, they can be performed on smartphones in a matter of seconds, making them much more convenient to use than passwords.

In what ways have you or Aware, Inc. contributed to the community?

After more than 20 years in one location, we recently moved to a new corporate headquarters in Burlington, Massachusetts. We had been using a limited amount of the available space in our previous Bedford, MA headquarters, and saw an opportunity to decrease our square footage and lessen our environmental impact. This aligns with our other environmental, social, and corporate governance (ESG) initiatives, such as a commitment to recycling and digitization, which has enabled us to save over ten tons of paper to date.

Additionally, Aware has a longstanding commitment to providing local students an opportunity to further their career aspirations by offering a robust intern program every year. We are currently looking at ways to expand that program now that we have moved to a new community. Aware also provides all employees with Voluntary Time Off (VTO) so that they may contribute to a charity or non-profit of their choice without sacrificing vacation time.

What are your future aspirations? Where do you see Aware, Inc. in the next five years?

We aspire for Aware to become synonymous with authentication, to become the world’s leading authentication company. When a company wants to implement a new authentication platform, we want them to think of Aware first. When a user is frustrated with resetting a password to gain access to their account, we want them to think of Aware as the solution. We want to lead the industry into the future and set a new standard for authentication, regardless of the use case or application. All companies and people should demand and expect better asset and identity protection, and our goal is that we will be that solution in the next five years.

Provide a few customer/client testimonials that rightly exhibit Aware, Inc’s expertise in the market.

“Aware is a great company to deal with and they keep their products up to date with constant attention to the needs of their users. They constantly strive to improve the ease of use and effectiveness of their software by listening to the people using it.” 

  • Marty Johnson, Kalamazoo County Sheriff’s Department (Lt.)

“We are very happy to have selected Aware for this particular project. Knomi is an ideal solution to incorporate into our mobile application, providing our customers with a simple and secure method to open new accounts and verify their identities from the convenience of their own homes. We had a tight timeframe and a number of local regulations to overcome with this partnership, and we are happy to have successfully addressed them with help from Aware and DVA.” 

  • Burçin Bıkmaz, Director of Retail Digital Solutions, Garanti BBVA

“We are delighted to be using Aware’s solution within our eOMIS® offering. In our InTouch mobile application, we must have the highest possible security to ensure that the person checking in as the offender is, in fact, the offender. The ability for Knomi to give us separate scores for face and voice recognition, and a fused score combining the two, gives us that peace of mind. Additionally, COVID-19 has limited the capability for in-person transactions, but Knomi has enabled us to transition from a previously required in-person enrollment and transform to a trusted, non-proctored mobile enrollment capability.” 

  • Ben Harrell, Director of Sales and Marketing, Marquis Software.