* Security precautions frustrate customers and banks
* Biocatch says it system makes current method more effective
* Multiple leading banks testing its system, company says
By Ari Rabinovitch
TEL AVIV, May 7 Is the slide of a mouse or a finger-swipe on a touch screen enough to expose a hacker?
Israeli cyber security firm Biocatch says it developed a technology that remembers how people maneuver physically online and can warn banks if a client's account has been taken over by a fraudster.
For years techniques have focused on less precise parameters, like if a user logs on from a foreign country, at an odd hour or from a new computer. In such cases the bank usually requires extra verification, which might be as simple as a personal security question or as time consuming as a phone call.
"The main problem for banks today is not catching the fraud but the friction caused with genuine online users," said Biocatch founder and Chief Executive Benny Rosenbaum.
Adding a level of behavioral biometric profiling, he said, can prevent a lot of headache for banks and customers who get unduly flagged. It can also detect scams other systems miss.
Several leading financial institutions in the United States and Europe are currently testing his company's product on their online or mobile banking sites, Rosenbaum said, without giving their names.
The Biocatch system is activated once a computer, smartphone or tablet user enters the protected site. It analyses patterns in hand movements, typing, and even poses subtle challenges - like an inconspicuous cursor jump - to test user reaction.
The company's service is cloud-based, though it receives no personal information from the bank - not even a person's name.
Uri Rivner, head of cyber strategy for the firm, said the "wide nets" cast by bank security programs often end up blocking 4 to 8 percent of online transactions, most of which turn out to be legitimate. By adding the behavioral biometric level, he said, that number will drop by 80 percent.
"Being able to verify the identity of users without changing the user experience is the holy grail for online and mobile authentications," he said.
Biocatch charges a per user-per year subscription fee with a discount as the user base grows. It raised an initial $4 million and is about to close a Series A funding round, Rosenbaum said, without providing details. (Editing by Tova Cohen)