Google Nabs Audio Authentication Startup (Feb. 20, 2014)
Google has acquired Israeli startup SlickLogin, which has developed technology that uses high-frequency sound waves to authenticate user identity when logging into Websites. Financial details of the transaction were not disclosed, but a notice on SlickLogin’s Website announced that the company’s team was joining Google, a company that “shares our core beliefs that logging in should be easy . . . and authentication should be effective without getting in the way.”
Started just a year ago by a trio of former members of the Israel Defense Force’s cybersecurity unit, SlickLogin’s technology had not yet been released to the market before Google snapped up the company. SlickLogin’s system works by playing a unique, nearly silent sound through computer speakers that is then picked up by a user’s smartphone. An app analyzes the sound and sends a confirmation signal back to the computer, enabling the user to login. The technology can be used as a standalone replacement for password-based login, or in conjunction with a password for additional security. The SlickLogin acquisition follows Google’s January purchase of Impermium, a startup focused on eliminating spam and online fraud.
A number of tech companies and financial service providers have been exploring alternative methods of authentication that could have implications for payments security. Last month, U.S. Bank announced it was testing a voice-based biometric mobile banking feature. And in September 2013, Apple Inc. unveiled a fingerprint-based security technology known as Touch ID, which can be used to unlock a phone’s screen and make iTunes purchases, bypassing the need to input passwords.