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How voice recognition is boosting security in finance

How voice recognition is boosting security in finance.jpgWhy voice biometric is the future of authentication

The traditional notion of a bank almost always conjures up images of high-level security. Think vaults, guards, safes and codes. After all, these are the institutions people trust when it comes to safeguarding their hard-earned cash.

However, things are changing. Today, banks are far from the secure money-protecting fortresses they’d like us to believe. A simple look at the major hacks of the last few years quickly highlights their vulnerability. From Tesco Bank’s 2016 breach which saw attackers withdraw money from 20,000 of its customer accounts, to Lloyds Banking Group’s denial of service of attack in 2017 – it’s clear that there’s a lot more to be done when it comes to staying cyber secure in finance.

The fact is that the move to phone and internet banking has brought with it a whole host of new fraud formats. Today, malicious social engineering doesn’t even require huge technical skill. It only takes a smooth-talking fraudster to persuade unwitting customer service staff to hand over confidential customer details. And once this happens, attackers can swiftly move onto a technical hack.

As the finance sector and its corresponding threats change, so too must banking defences. Attacks happen quickly – defence simply has to outrun them. That means realising a hacker is on the telephone line before they get talking to a representative.

The new talk of the town

While digital security in banking and finance is multi-faceted, one of the emerging technologies many are using for protection is voice biometrics – solutions which offer a secure and convenient way for contact centres to establish their customers’ identities.

Using a voiceprint, voice biometrics can identify who is speaking, not just what they’re saying. The way it works is simple. By looking at a number of characteristics (such as pitch, tone, speed and energy) and the variations within them, the solution, creates a very unique piece of analysable data on the caller. And because that data takes into account so many different parameters, it’s infinitely more secure than passwords.

Biometrics beyond security

The move towards biometrics sits in line with the widespread push for creating more intuitive and simple banking. And it has huge potential to dramatically transform the future banking experience.

Indeed, biometrics is not just about security benefits – efficiency gains can be had as well. Instead of requiring customers to remember a passphrase or recite personal details to authenticate their identity, voice biometrics means an individual can be verified passively during a phone conversation. This speeds processes up for contact centre agents, and makes the customer experience far more seamless. With only a few words or phrases needed for analysis, a caller can be verified in a matter of seconds. Customers who find typing or remembering details difficult (due to disability or other reasons) will hugely benefit.

It’s not always a failsafe system. A throat operation or illness can easily change the key characteristics voice biometrics depend on. However, it’s important to remember that these instances are rare and the idea behind the technology is really all about striking the right balance between business and customer needs, and tailoring the solution to fit. Because a lot of the time, it isn’t just the voice that is being analysed. It’s also the physical instruments that are producing the sound. Modern voice recognition takes into account things such as the size and shape of a mouth, nasal passage and larynx, and the typical background noise around that particular customer. Meaning the sensitivity of authentication can be adjusted accordingly.

Next steps

For businesses who are considering adding voice biometrics to their security barrier, there are a number of initial steps to consider. The first is to identify the main reason for implementation. Its intended use (as a differentiator, a security booster, an efficiency tool, or any other purpose) will dictate the need for voice biometrics technology – as well as the complexity and cost of a system.

The next step is to engage with an experienced supplier that can advise and help create a roadmap for implementation. Not least because in a world in which legislation and compliance can be constantly moving and changing, having experts who are well-versed in these areas can save data controllers a whole lot of stress.

Finally, it’s important to remember that the right tool should be able to exist, cooperate with and enhance current processes. It should make life easier, and not add further layers of complexity to the security back-end. Nor become another node through which data can escape.

Above all, it’s vital that banks recognise that modern threats need modern responses. The traditional idea of a bank as a safe house needs updating – biometrics must be a part of that work.