Categories
Security

OpenSea is adding NFT copy detection and verification features

OpenSea is rolling out features to “improve authenticity” on the digital marketplace, the company announced in a series of blog posts today. The updates include a new system to detect and remove copycat NFTs and an overhaul to the account verification process.

“Copymints” are tokens ripping off other NFTs and have proved to be a problem for platforms like OpenSea. Last year, the platform banned two collections that mimicked Bored Ape Yacht Club NFTs by flipping them so the image is mirrored. And though the owner of an NFT is recorded on the blockchain, fakes are rampant. In February, OpenSea said that over 80 percent of items it removed for violations were created with its free minting tool.

OpenSea says it’s implementing a new two-part copy detection system, noting copies make it harder for users to find authentic content. The company says it will use image recognition tech to scan NFTs on the platform and compare them with authentic collections, looking for flips, rotations, and other variants. OpenSea says human reviewers will also look at removal recommendations.

“We’re committed to threading the needle between removing copymints and giving space for those substantively additive remixes to prosper,” the blog post reads. OpenSea says it’s already started removing offending content and will scale up the removal process in the coming weeks.

Account verification on OpenSea is also getting an update. An invite-only verification application will be available to accounts with a collection of at least 100 ETH volume, and the company says it plans to broaden eligibility soon. Collections can get a blue badge when owned by a verified account and meet the 100 ETH trading volume.

OpenSea has rolled out other safety features in recent months following reports of scams and fraudsters on or related to the platform. In February, the company announced a verified customer support system, a response to scammers who were impersonating OpenSea employees and gaining access to people’s cryptocurrency wallets.


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Categories
Game

Valve’s new verification program will make it easy to see if a game runs on Steam Deck

Ahead of Steam Deck’s December release, Valve has detailed the compatibility program it will use to let people know if they can play their games on the portable PC. Dubbed , the system groups games into four categories: “Verified,” “Playable,” “Unsupported” and “Unkown.”

If you see a game with the first badge, it means it will work great out of the box. Of the playable category, Valve says you may need to do some tweaking. For example, in a title like Team Fortress 2, you might have to download a community controller configuration before you can use the Steam Deck’s thumbsticks and face buttons to play the game. Valve lists Half-Life: Alyx as an example of an experience that you won’t be able to play on Steam Deck, suggesting the unsupported category will be mostly occupied by VR titles. Lastly, an unknown tag means the company hasn’t had a chance to test that game for compatibility yet.

Deck Verified

Valve

To earn verified status, a game must meet four criteria. First, it should include full controller support, and the onscreen keyboard should appear when needed. Second, you shouldn’t see any compatibility warnings. The game should also support the Steam Deck’s native 1,280 by 800 resolution, and text should be easily readable. Lastly, if the title is playable through Proton, everything, including any anti-cheat software, should work through the compatibility layer.

To make things easy, you’ll see the badges appear both in your Steam library and the store. Moreover, each time you go to buy a game, you’ll see a full compatibility report that lists any issues to expect when playing it. Valve says it’s also working on a system that will allow you to see what compatibility category each game in your library falls under before Steam Deck is available in December. 

If nothing else, the system should make it easier to decide if it makes sense to buy a Steam Deck. The last thing anyone wants is to spend $400 on a new gadget and not be able to play their favorite games.  

All products recommended by Engadget are selected by our editorial team, independent of our parent company. Some of our stories include affiliate links. If you buy something through one of these links, we may earn an affiliate commission.

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Categories
AI

Identity verification startup SentiLink raises $70M

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SentiLink, a startup developing a platform to detect and block identity fraud, today announced it has raised $70 million in a series B round led by Craft Venture’s David Sacks, with participation from Felicis Ventures, Andreessen Horowitz, and NYCA. Cofounder and CEO Naftali Harris says the proceeds will be used to build out SentiLink’s product suite and expand its team.

The pandemic has supercharged enterprises’ digital transformations, but not at the expense of security. According to a recent survey, 79% of businesses are willing to forgo some growth for increased security, with a particular focus on identity verification as transactions move online. Experian reports that 82% of businesses say they now have a customer recognition strategy in place, up 26% since the start of the pandemic. If the trend continues, the global identity verification market could be worth 16.65 billion by 2026, Mordor Intelligence predicts.

SentiLink offers solutions that aim to identify fake or stolen identities when users create new online accounts. Harris and Max Blumenfeld founded the company in 2017 after their experiences developing Affirm’s risk function.

“[We] came across a peculiar fraud case [at Affirm] where 12 identities applied for loans using the same name and date of birth but 12 different social security numbers. [We] were surprised to discover that all 12 of them had real credit reports with over 750 credit despite not being real people,” Harris told VentureBeat via email. “[This made us realize] how big a problem identity verification was and how poorly it was done, [which is why we] founded SentiLink, with [Affirm CEO] Max Levchin’s blessing and investment.”

Fraud-detecting AI

Identiq, Jumio, Socure, Onfido, Berbix, and Persona are among the companies vying for a slice of the authentication market SentiLink competes in. But Harris claims his company takes a different approach than most.

“Instead of focusing on buzzwords like ‘artificial intelligence,’ we focus on deeply understanding fraud and identity and only use machine learning models to productionalize our insights,” Harris said. “This deep understanding is so important to us that we employ a team of risk analysts whose full-time job is to investigate new kinds of fraud and discover what the fraudsters are doing. It’s so core to what we do that the entire company spends an hour every Friday reviewing cases together.”

To detect fraud, SentiLink taps into multiple data sources — including a consortium of data shared across its customers — to verify whether a new account belongs to a real person. For example, it compares data gathered when someone applies for credit, including which credentials they used, against a large collection of other data elements associated with that person.

SentiLink

Above: SentiLink cofounders Naftali Harris (left) and Maxwell Blumenfeld (right).

Image Credit: SentiLink

SentiLink trains the aforementioned models using labels provided by its risk operations team, which works to spot differences in synthetic identities compared with verifiable identities. The company claims it only needs a name, address, date of birth, and social security number to score an identity for synthetic fraud.

“Our [customers] check whether applications are fraudulent before opening accounts for credit cards, auto loans … or checking and savings accounts.  Some of our partners save tens of millions of dollars annually in fraud losses by using us,” Harris says. “[The pandemic has] caused a huge amount of fraud, particularly unemployment insurance fraud, which has led to a massive influx of ID theft.  This had led to an increased need for our solution, particularly among checking and savings accounts, which many financial institutions previously thought would not need much protection.”

SentiLink claims to work with over 100 financial institutions that have collectively verified several hundred million identities to date. The company has 25 employees and plans to grow to 45 by the end of the year and 100 by 2022.

This latest funding round brings San Francisco, California-based SentiLink’s total raised to $85 million.

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Categories
Security

Google beefs up Play Store developer verification in response to scams

Google is working to enhance the integrity of the Play Store by adding new restrictions and safeguards to developer accounts.

Google Play Store developers will soon have to verify their email address and phone number and provide extra details like a physical address in an attempt to increase security and ensure that accounts are being created by ‘real people,’ the company has announced. Developers will also be required to use two-step verification. The search giant says it’s making the changes “to keep Google Play safe and secure and to better serve our developer community,” and to “make sure that every account is created by a real person with real contact details.”

The Record reports that the announcement coincides with the emergence of a cottage industry of sellers who’ll create large amounts of developer accounts for others to use to upload malware and other scammy apps to the Play Store. A screenshot of a cybercrime forum post published by The Record shows these accounts being sold for $89 each.

Meanwhile, the two-step verification requirement should make it harder for scammers to break into and steal legitimate developers accounts. It mirrors a similar change the search giant announced for regular Google accounts earlier this year, where it will now enable two-factor authentication by default.

The changes are significant compared to Google’s current developer account policies that only require new signups to provide an email address and phone number. Details like a physical address “will not be public-facing,” the company says, and are solely to “to help us confirm your identity and communicate.”

Google is introducing the new requirements in stages. It says that, from today, account owners will have the option of setting their account type as personal or business and verifying their contact details. Then, in August, all new signups will be required to follow these same steps when they create their accounts, and to use two-step verification. “Later this year” the changes will be fully implemented for all existing accounts.

The changes come amidst a wider crackdown on scammy apps on the Play Store, which will prohibit developers from using cheap tactics in their listings to incentivize installs. App listings will no longer be able to use eye-catching features like all-caps or emoji in their titles, or include phrases like “download now.”

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Categories
Tech News

Twitter verification requests are on hold again

Twitter has once again put verification requests on hold, only a week since it began taking blue check applications again. Users with a claim on notoriety – whether by virtue of their role as an activist or influencer, journalist, or professional athlete – will now have to be patient once again before they can request the coveted blue badge, though this time around the social network says the wait will be a little shorter.

“We’re rolling in verification requests,” Twitter’s Verified account said this afternoon. “So we gotta hit pause on accepting any more for now while we review the ones that have been submitted. We’ll reopen requests soon! (we pinky swear).”

Verification has been one of the least-understood elements of life on Twitter since the blue checkmarks first began appearing. Initially, the rules by which the company decided who was worthy of the badge were pretty clandestine, though over time it explained a little more about its policies. Generally, the mark is designed to indicate that a person is who they claim to be, helping avoid fake accounts from being taken seriously.

However the way verification was managed had confused that process. Some users had their checkmarks removed after breaking Twitter rules, for example, leading to suggestions that the system was as much punitive as it was about validating authenticity. With fake news rising exponentially, Twitter opted to put verification requests on hold about three years ago.

When the system returned, it was with a little extra transparency. Those requesting the badge must now fall into one of six general categories:

Government
Companies, brands and organizations
News organizations and journalists
Entertainment
Sports and gaming
Activists, organizers, and other influential individuals

However, they must also have a complete profile, with a name, image, and either a confirmed phone number or email address. Twitter may request a copy of government-issued ID to verify identity, and users wanting to be verified need to have been active on the site within the past six months. Beyond that, though, there are also requirements around behavior on Twitter.

If, for instance, you were punished with a 12 hour or 7 day lockout within the past 12 months for violating Twitter’s rules, you won’t be able to get verified.

Twitter was progressively adding the application option to user accounts after announcing it was reopening for verification requests. Now, they’ll be disappearing again as it works through this new backlog. No word at this stage on when, exactly, it’ll be activating that again.



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Categories
Tech News

Twitter verification reopens: Here’s how applications work

Twitter is relaunching verification, opening up the blue check program after reworking its confusing – and at times controversial – policies. The social network has long used a blue logo on usernames to identify that individuals are who they say they are, but questions about just what degree of trustworthiness that implies had forced Twitter to go back to the drawing board to rework the system.

It’s been a few years since Twitter – officially, at least – decided to stop its existing verification program. Since then, new blue checks have been added, but the method by which that’s happened has been even more circumspect.

Lending to the confusion, verification has also been used as a way of punishing users as well. Contravening Twitter rules has seen some people lose their blue tick, for instance, and changing your username can also lead to it disappearing. Questions around whether individuals or news organizations which share and promote “fake news” or even help incite violence such as that at the US Capitol on January 6 should keep their verification mark has only made the process murkier.

Last November, Twitter said it had reworked its system and would launch it in due course. Today, it’s getting the first roll-out, complete with new verification guidelines.

“These verification guidelines are intended to encourage healthy conversations for the betterment of the Twitter community overall,” the company explained today. “They follow the philosophy to lead by example, Tweet others how they want to be Tweeted, and serve the public conversation authentically, respectfully, and with consideration. As always, all accounts, including verified accounts, must follow the Twitter Rules. And as we previously shared, verified accounts that repeatedly violate the Twitter Rules are subject to have the blue badge removed.”

Those who want to be verified will need to have a complete account, including a profile name, profile image, and either a confirmed email address or phone number. They’ll also need to have been active within the past six months, and “a record of adherence to the Twitter rules,” the company warns. If you had a 12 hour or 7 day lockout within the past 12 months for violating those rules, for example, you won’t be able to get verified. Finally, they’ll have to fall into one of six categories:

Government
Companies, brands and organizations
News organizations and journalists
Entertainment
Sports and gaming
Activists, organizers, and other influential individuals

As for how you apply, Twitter will be adding a verification application option in the Account Settings tab. From there you’ll be able to choose a relevant category, and then verify your identify – either with government-issued ID, an official email address, or an official website – after which point Twitter will process the application.

“Once you submit your application, you can expect an emailed response from us within a few days, but this could take up to a few weeks depending on how many open applications are in our queue,” Twitter explains. “If your application is approved, you’ll see the blue badge automatically on your profile. If you think we made a mistake, reapply 30 days after receiving our decision on your application.”

There’ll be new categories added later in 2021, Twitter says, such as for scientists, academics, and religious leaders. Automated accounts, which tweet automatically, will also be supported as account types in due course, and there’ll be a way to memorialize accounts for users who have died.

Access to the new verification application will be rolling out to all Twitter users over the coming weeks. Meanwhile, leaks have hinted that a new, paid subscription option is in the pipeline, complete with premium features only accessible if you pay a fee.



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Categories
AI

Jumio raises $150M to secure onboarding with image verification AI

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Jumio, an AI platform that offers identity verification as a service, today announced the closure of an over $150 million fundraising round, bringing its total raised to $163 million. The company, which claims the tranche is among the largest ever for an identity verification startup, plans to put the capital toward hiring and expanding its customer base.

Javelin Strategy reported that 6.64% of consumers, or about 16.7 million people, fell victim to identity fraud in 2017, up 1 million from 2016. In 2018, over 2.6 billion records were stolen or exposed in more than 1,100 data breaches around the world. That’s perhaps why by 2022, 80% of organizations will be using document-centric identity proofing as part of their onboarding workflows, which is an increase from approximately 30% today, according to Gartner.

Palo Alto, California-based Jumio was relaunched in 2016, when the company emerged from bankruptcy as it was being investigated by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission after restating its 2013 and 2014 financials. In 2019, the agency fined Jumio’s original founder and former CEO Daniel Mattes more than $17 million to settle the charges that he defrauded investors, including Facebook cofounder Eduardo Saverin.

Jumio is now owned by private equity firm Centana Growth Partners and says its products have helped to verify over 300 million identities for hundreds of customers including Airbnb, Coinbase, United Airlines, and Instacart. In 2018, Montreal-based Jumio AI Labs was founded, dedicated to the creation, experimentation, and at-scale deployment of machine learning and deep learning technologies related to online identity verification, data extraction, fraud detection, and risk scoring. And in 2020, Jumio claims to have achieved record revenues, culminating in the acquisition of San Francisco-based Beam Solutions’ anti-money laundering platform, which focuses on mobile transaction monitoring and case management.

Jumio integrates with websites, iOS and Android apps, and more to enable businesses to confirm users are who they say they are for new account onboarding, fraud detection, age verification, and transaction monitoring. The platform combines biometrics for identity proofing and “ongoing” 3D face authentication, powered in part by technology from Nevada-based FaceTec. Users first snap a photo of their driver’s license, passport, or ID card and then use a mobile device camera or webcam to capture their faces. In the course of authentication, Jumio compares the “selfie” — a 3D face map containing 100 times the liveness data of a 2D photo — with the picture on the aforementioned ID and retakes the selfie for good measure.

Jumio

Jumio claims to leverage 10 years of real-world data, hundreds of millions of domain-specific data points from 3,500 ID types across 200 regions, AI for liveness detection, and face-based biometrics to power its authentication products. Beyond verifying identities, Jumio offers services that monitor transactions and customers to identify suspicious or unusual activity. The company also provides solutions that automatically determine proof of address from pictures of utility bills, credit cards, and bank statements to validate and corroborate addresses with independent third-party sources.

“Jumio leverages AI in every identity verification that we process,” CEO Robert Prigge explained to VentureBeat via email. “Jumio uses AI to align pictures of ID documents so that we can reliably optical character recognition (OCR) the data. Jumio uses AI to inspect an ID for signs of fraud or tampering. Jumio uses AI as part of its liveness detection to ensure that the person is physically present and to compare the picture in the selfie with the picture on the ID document. We have dozens of AI and machine learning models in place to improve the user experience, sniff out fraud, and to expedite the customer experience. Powered by informed AI, Jumio’s OCR engine overcomes many of the limitations of traditional OCR and is capable of highly accurate data extraction — data that can be used to ping third-party databases or to verify a person’s age (based on the date of birth).”

The pandemic has led to an uptick in the types of fraud that Jumio claims its platform can actively prevent. A recent report from Socure found that fraudulent credit card applications jumped 93% from March to April 2020. Between March and late June, attempted money transfer fraud increased 43% as challenger banks experienced a 200% climb in attempted demand deposit account fraud.

“The pandemic expedited digital transformation efforts as physical locations and face-to-face verifications became impossible. When consumers turned to digital transactions during the pandemic, companies’ need to verify the identity of users skyrocketed. Jumio processed its single-highest volume of identity verifications in 2020, compared to any other quarter in the company’s history,” Prigge said. “The growth has also been driven by enterprises switching from data-centric approaches to document-centric approaches to identity proofing. This exodus was caused, in large part, by large-scale data breaches of personally identifiable information which have rendered data-centric approaches less reliable.”

For example, Jumio recently partnered with delivery startup Rappi to help verify the identities of its new customers and couriers. Since partnering with Jumio, more than 750,000 users have opened new Rappi payment accounts, according to Prigge. “At a time where remote operations have made it challenging to verify identity online, we’re proud to provide a secure solution for enterprises to detect fraud and confirm their users are who they claim to be,” he said.

Great Hill Partners led this latest investment in Jumio — one of the single largest funding rounds in the digital identity space. Jumio, who counts among its previous backers Millennium Technology Value Partners, now employs over 1,500 people across its offices in North America, Latin America, Europe, and Asia Pacific.

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