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An iphone homescreen. Photo: Jaap Arriens/NurPhoto via Getty Images

AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon demoed a jointly developed prototype authentication app at the Mobile World Congress Conference on Wednesday, that uses customer behavior patterns to verify users identity.

Why it matters: While Project Verify may look similar to other apps that use a phone for authentication – Google Authenticator included – cell companies have access to a host of data that app designers, and even phone manufacturers, do not. If it works as intended, Project Verify is a significant step in mobile security.

"This is not just a better mousetrap," Johannes Jaskolski, general manager of the companies' joint Mobile Authentication Taskforce. "This is fundamentally different, using very unique signals."

The potential uses: The potential uses include replacing passwords for low security accounts or being paired with a password to bolster protection on more secure accounts. It could be used to protect logins from mobile devices, desktops or anything else.

The internals: Without collecting any information they already don't, phone companies already have access to SIM cards, detailed location data and other information that normal authentication apps do not. Phones allow apps from carriers special access.

The minutia: Though the four carriers worked together on the app, none of the authentication data is shared between companies – a hypothetical rogue employee at T-Mobile couldn’t access an AT&T customer's information.

Go deeper

Updated 15 mins ago - World

U.S. threatens to cut aid to Sudan after military takeover

Sudanese Prime Minister Abdallah Hamdok during a 2020 news conference in Khartoum, Sudan. Photo: Mahmoud Hjaj/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Sudan's civilian Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok was put under house arrest and several other ministers were detained Monday in what appears to be a military coup in the country, per local reports.

The latest: The head of the military faction of the Sudanese government, Gen. Abdul Fattah al-Burhan, said in a statement that he is announcing a state of emergency, suspending several parts of the interim constitution and dissolving the civilian government and interim sovereignty council — the highest governing body in the country.

Facebook's pivotal week

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

They're battening down the hatches at Facebook headquarters this week as the company faces a trifecta of tumult: a continuing wave of negative press coverage fueled by document leaks, a critical earnings report Monday and a reported name change looming.

The big picture: All this is unfolding as Mark Zuckerberg tries to transform Facebook from a social network into the prime mover behind a new "metaverse" of VR- and AR-driven remote work and play.

3D-printed houses seem poised to go mainstream

A rendering of a planned 3D-printed, net-zero-energy community in Rancho Mirage, Calif. Photo: Mighty Buildings

3D-printed cement houses are about to take off, offering a cheaper, more efficient way to provide homes for those who need them — as long as they can be built in ways that don't worsen climate change.

Why it matters: Developers of 3D-printed homes think they can take on multiple challenges: the affordable housing crisis, the shortage of skilled labor and rising material costs.