Voice biometrics most effective form of authentication

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More and more organisations are using voice biometrics as a secondary form of authentication, says Nuance's Brett Beranek.
More and more organisations are using voice biometrics as a secondary form of authentication, says Nuance's Brett Beranek.

Voice biometrics have an authentication success rate of 100%, while passwords have been proven to have a 90% success rate and fingerprints have an 80% success rate.

This was according to Brett Beranek, product strategy director at software company, Nuance Communications. Speaking at the Voice Biometrics Forum in Johannesburg yesterday, Beranek explained one of the challenges with fingerprints is that the fingerprint sensor may not be able to read the fingerprint for various reasons such as the temperature of your finger, or sweat and dirt collected in the users' hand.

"The password on the other hand is only as secure as the person who created it, so hackers can compromise the passwords. The problem with passwords is that they cannot identify you as a user in the same way as voice biometrics are tied to you as an individual, therefore you will not have the same type of challenges as you would have when using voice biometrics," he pointed out.

The original use cases for voice biometrics, he continued, were to authenticate consumers when they phoned into a contact centre, where the technology aimed to replace the use of pins, passwords or security questions.

Today, he added, the technology is used across various digital platforms to authenticate users within mobile apps, in banking, in connected cars and in smart homes. This form of security has been proven to be effective in both identity authentication and fraud detection.

"What we're also observing is more and more organisations are using voice biometrics as a step-up authentication, where a user has already accessed the mobile app and now they need to make a high risk transaction, so they would use a voice biometric as a secondary form of authentication.

"Some organisations are leveraging the two, meaning they can enrol a client's voice print on their database and keep their voice on file and still be able to use it across various digital channels on a day-to-day basis," Beranek commented.

In a handful of places voice biometrics technology is used within the home security, to arm and disarm the home. In future we will see the technology being deployed in intelligent cars, where it will be used for securing access to the onboard computer and as a back up to your car keys, he continued.

"In our interactions with car manufacturers, it's clear that they are more interested in using voice biometrics to provide access to the on-board computer. The technology is already being implemented in smart TVs and internationally they are also being adopted within ATMs and inside the bank branches.

"If I go up to my TV and say show me comedy movies, the TV is able to recognise the voice of its owner and will yield to instruction," he noted.

The accuracy, he points out, will depend on how the user has configured their system and how it is able to measure the uniqueness of their voice. Most clients in the banking centre have reported they have not had any fraudulent cases with voice biometrics despite using the tech for five or 10 years.

"However, every client has to decide how stringent they want a security system to be. A financial institution may want a much more stringent security setting then the TV manufacturer who may be more focused on personalisation," he concluded.

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