How voice biometric solutions have become the answer to better data security

By Michael Steinmann, Nuance Communications

With the increased pressure on traditional security methods such as PINs and passwords previously reported by Business Review Australia, organisations need to re-assess the processes and solutions in place to prevent security breaches and make their customers’ lives more convenient.

Once such approach is voice biometric solutions, which have consistently reduced exposure to fraud and have been hailed as the ‘future of the password’ among other methodologies like iris and facial recognition. In investigating how voice biometrics can deliver seamless customer authentication and mitigated risk, the most common forms of security attacks have been addressed.

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A compromised voiceprint is unusable for account access; Large-scale attacks prevented

A voiceprint is a hashed string of numbers and characters that represent how a specific individual’s voice rates on the myriad of characteristics being measured.

As such, a compromised voiceprint has no value to a hacker. It cannot be used to authenticate to a system. Neither can it be used to reverse engineer someone’s voice. This inherent characteristic of voice biometrics provides a fundamental security benefit over any knowledge based authentication method.

Even if a database of voiceprints were to be accessed by a hacker, those voiceprints would be of no use to the perpetrator; voice biometrics is simply not vulnerable to these sorts of large scale attacks. This limits fraudsters to attempting to compromise individual accounts, which offers little return on investment for a fraudster.

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Preventing known fraudsters

As the next-gen has its focus on devices, the device companies have been investing heavily in features that can diminish fraud. One example is the high-quality microphones and cameras that make facial and voice recognition possible. This type of authentication can certainly prevent attacks. The shift to next-gen authentication methods has been made possible by the convergence of several trends, such as high-quality microphones and cameras that make voice and facial recognition possible.

Lately, consumers tend to prefer using methods where they identify security improvements, therefore they have been demanding this type of authentication from services such as banking, telcos, retailers, etc. Although companies are driven by the need to increase their volume of mobile and online transactions, customers are still unsure of its security even though they would prefer mobile and online assistance for its convenience.

In cases where fraudsters are successful, the voiceprint left at the crime scene can be used to identify and prosecute the criminal. This serves as a powerful deterrent to fraudsters, and prevents fraudster activity against stealing customer PINs and hijacking agent handled security questions.

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A voice is unique to the individual

A person’s voice is unique, much like a person’s fingerprint, iris or face. There are more than one hundred voice characteristics that can be measured to determine who you are based on your voice. To identify a person using voice biometrics, a person’s voice needs to be captured. This makes voice biometrics fundamentally different from knowledge based credentials, such as PINs and security questions.

Someone cannot guess your voice, whereas someone can guess your PIN or answers to security questions. For the most part, a person’s voice is not readily available on the internet, unlike the answers to security questions, such as a person’s mother’s maiden name.

Although a recording of someone’s voice can be captured by a malicious user, the voice is inherently static. Voice biometric systems can be dynamic, meaning they can be used to assess a person’s identity during live conversations or by asking a caller to speak a random phrase.

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