Selfie security: Uber upgrades check-ins for drivers

Elizabeth Gurdus, CNBC news associate
Uber upgrades security measures with selfies

Uber said Friday it is stepping up its security measures to require its drivers to share selfies before using its app.

The ride-hailing giant announced it is partnering with Microsoft in an effort to prevent fraud and protect its drivers' accounts.

To increase accountability among drivers, the app will use a feature perfected by Microsoft Cognitive Services called Real-Time ID Check to match selfies to profile pictures associated with drivers' accounts.

In just a few seconds, Microsoft's face-recognition technology cross-references the photos and verifies the identity of the driver using the account. If the photos don't match, the account in question is temporarily suspended while Uber investigates the problem.

Andrew Shuman, corporate vice president of Microsoft's products for technology and research, told CNBC's "Squawk Box" that the facial recognition algorithm has the power to recognize a driver even after a major change, like shaving a beard. It even prompts drivers who wear glasses to remove them for a more accurate verification. In the case of more dramatic changes, Uber may require a new profile picture.

Uber reported in a blog post on its website that 99 percent of its drivers were successfully verified during an extensive testing period earlier this year. Most of the unverified 1 percent resulted from unclear profile photos.

"Our goal here was to kind of address a low frequency but high severity issue. From the standpoint of a driver, they've invested a lot in their account," Uber's Chief Security Officer Joe Sullivan told "Squawk Box." "In a world of account takeovers, data breaches, and things like that, we want to make sure that these drivers can feel confident that no one's going to steal their identity and their account just by knowing their password," he said.

The feature follows a series of recent security measures Uber introduced after its driver-vetting process came under fire in the wake of the fatal shooting of six people in Kalamazoo, Michigan, allegedly by an Uber driver.