Deutsche Telekom, Telefónica and Vodafone launch password-free secure login procedure

Aug 12, 2019

Deutsche Telekom, Telefónica Deutschland and Vodafone Deutschland launch Mobile Connect. The globally established mobile-phone-based login procedure enables simple and protected login to Inter-net services on PCs, tablets and mobile phones. All customers need to register is their smartphone and their mobile phone number. There is no need to enter a user name and password. And the personal mobile phone number becomes a unique digital identity for Internet purchases or regis-tration on online portals. In future, Mobile Connect could also enable digi-tal visits to government agencies.

The three German network operators Deutsche Telekom, Telefónica Deutsch-land and Vodafone Deutschland are fighting data thieves by offering Mobile Connect, a login procedure for online portals. It does not require an e-mail ad-dress or password and thus makes a decisive contribution to higher security when logging in.

With Verimi, the cross-industry identity platform founded in 2017, mobile com-munications providers have gained their first major partner for Mobile Connect in Germany. With immediate effect, Verimi will integrate Mobile Connect into its portfolio in order to offer customers the option of convenient registration via their mobile phone number. Verimi users can already authenticate themselves via login with their mobile phone number, once they have registered in the Verimi portal.

Mobile Connect closes the "Password" vulnerability

Until now, access to online services has generally been via username and password. This is cumbersome and entails risks. Many users use passwords that are easy to guess, such as their first name, "qwertz" or "123456", and change them far too rarely. This makes access data an easy and preferred tar-get for hackers.

Mobile Connect does not use passwords for login.  Identification of the cus-tomer works via cellphone. After entering the mobile phone number in the In-ternet portal, an SMS is sent to the customer's mobile phone. Using the link in-tegrated in the text message, the customer confirms receipt on his smartphone. This allows the network operator to transmit a "pseudonymised customer refer-ence number" to the portal operator in encrypted form. In this way, the operator can assign the customer a number again and again and also grants access to the online shop without a password.

If an operator must initially stick to password-based login, the new solution can still significantly improve security via mobile communications: Mobile Connect can be used as a "second factor" (2FA) in addition to the password. Experts been calling for two factors to be taken into account when logging in for some time.

Strategic importance for online business

Mobile Connect is a secure alternative to the password-based login proce-dures on Facebook, Google, Amazon and Co. This has considerable ad-vantages for providers of digital content as well as portal and shop operators. The new Login procedure allows customers to safely access online shops and to proceed quickly to their purchases. The result: higher completion rates, more sales, and a lower risk of fraud. Banks, providers of electronic payment ser-vices, media, entertainment, social networks, travel or logistics benefit from the service. Deutsche Telekom, Telefónica and Vodafone are thus making a meaningful contribution to the digitalization of business processes, also with regard to eGovernment.

Following launch, the three network operators want to rapidly expand Mobile Connect. Additional authentication methods and new procedures are intended to make the system more user-friendly and faster to use. Companies are con-tinuously adapting their offerings to growing security requirements. The net-work operators are currently conducting intensive discussions with German and international service providers about the use of the new identity solution. Deutsche Telekom, Telefónica and Vodafone invite all mobile brands and vir-tual network operators without their own network to also support the GSMA standard Mobile Connect. According to the GSMA, 70 operators in nearly 40 countries have already introduced Mobile Connect.

Alex Sinclair (CTO, GSMA): "The introduction of Mobile Connect in Germany is a very important step for both mobile network operators and their customers, as it offers both trust and ease of use in an increasingly complex digital world. The GSMA is pleased to welcome Germany to the growing number of coun-tries supporting Mobile Connect worldwide".

Dirk Backofen, Head of Telekom Security, says: "Currently, six out of ten Inter-net users say they are afraid of cybercrime. To protect its customers, Deutsche Telekom investigates 100,000 reports of password theft every day. Mobile Connect closes this security gap for customers, which has been exploited mil-lions of times by hackers".

Pia von Houwald, Director B2P Digital Processes and Services at Telefónica Germany: "With the launch of Mobile Connect, we are now offering customers a service that makes their digital lives much easier and safer. Our goal is clear: Together with our partners, we want to make Mobile Connect the standard for registering for online services in Germany. For this reason, we are also availa-ble at any time for discussions with interested providers".

Michael Reinartz, Director Innovation & Consumer Services at Vodafone Ger-many: "The current hacker attacks on politicians and celebrities clearly show that access to online platforms with passwords involves a high risk. So it is high time for effective protection of private accounts. Mobile Connect offers exactly this security, because here the identification takes place via mobile phone and not with a password. The entire e-commerce industry, but also pub-lic authorities, must now show willingness to innovate and offer alternatives and, above all, secure login options in their own interest".

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