Department of Work and Pensions considers two-factor authentication

The Department of Work and Pensions is looking at using two-factor authentication and "shared secret" security when paying benefits to members of the public.

The Department of Work and Pensions is looking at using two-factor authentication and "shared secret" security when paying benefits to members of the public.

Martin Bellamy, group applications director at the department, ruled out biometric security in the immediate future because of "issues" with the method.

He said, "Our way forward is a shared-secret based approach. We will not pursue biometrics in the immediate future. They have a part to play but there are still some issues.

"If each transaction takes one minute too long, that is hundreds of extra staff we will need each year. Our objectives are to deliver better services and improve efficiency, through more use of electronic channels.

"Better identity management will also help us to reduce the £800m we lose in fraud each year."

Bellamy mentioned two-factor authentication but said the main route they would take would be to improve the use of supplementary questions. When the customer first contacts the department, staff ask them various questions and carry out data matching to ensure they are who they say they are.

At every subsequent point of contact, staff will ask for two letters of an individual's postcode or another similar piece of personal information.

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