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The Future is Calling: Using Voice Recognition for Authentication

 
September 17, 2018

As people become increasingly comfortable with biometrics, voice authentication is finding wider application across industries, including healthcare, banking, and education. The voice biometrics market is set to grow at an explosive CAGR of 19.4% between 2017 and 2021. Voice recognition systems monitor the cadence and accent, as well as indicate the shape and size of the larynx, nasal passages, and vocal tract of a person, to help identify and authenticate the individual.

How does the system work? A user must first create a voice print by recording his/her name, age, address, and a set of secret sound notes. The voice recognition system captures the voice print and analyzes the speech and breathing pattern. The voice print is then encrypted and stored in the Active Directory as part of the user's authentication profile, along with other authentication credentials. Whenever a user who has signed up for voice authentication calls, his/her voice is matched against the voice print stored in the Active Directory, resulting in rapid and seamless authentication.

How Enterprises are Using Voice Biometrics for Authentication

Voice authentication offers a flexible and cost-effective form of biometric authentication as it does not require hardware integration that might be needed in the case of other modalities such as fingerprint matching or retinal scan. Enterprises can leverage voice recognition to enhance security and provide a choice to customers in terms of how they wish to authenticate themselves. Some of the use cases of voice-based authentication across industries include:

  • Entertainment: Voice recognition can be used to change TV or radio channels, open and close screens, and play movies. It can also help personalize customer experience. For instance, services such as Netflix and Hulu can be personalized by determining the age of the user through voice analysis, enabling them to access age-appropriate content.
  • Healthcare: The global healthcare biometric market is expected to reach USD 14.5 billion by 2025, according to a recent report by Grand View Research, Inc. In an industry where data security is paramount, physicians can use voice biometrics to dictate and record patient’s health conditions directly into the system and securely retrieve patient’s personal history. This can significantly benefit patients who need to share medical records between various doctors. The system can also help dramatically reduce fraud for providers and payers by automating payment collection, and improve patient satisfaction by offering an additional payment option.
  • Banking: Customers can use voice authentication to operate bank lockers. Banks, on the other hand, can leverage the system to enable highly secure and advanced voice-based payments. With fraud on the rise, credit card companies and banks such as Citibank and ANZ use voice biometrics to proactively identify fraudsters and authenticate callers at their call centers.
  • Education: Educational institutions can use voice recognition to provide flexibility to students with visual disability, helping them take online exams using voice authentication.
  • Independent Software Vendors (ISV): For ISVs, voice authentication can enable enterprise sign on mechanisms such as those based on Active Directory, enabling authentication uniformity across enterprise applications and strengthening compliance with accessibility standards.  

Addressing the Challenges of Voice-Based Authentication

While the voice of an individual is unique, secure authentication through voice recognition can be a challenge in some cases – for instance, if the user has a sore throat or cold. It is therefore important to prevent unauthorized users from hacking into the database by mimicking someone else’s voice.

The ideal way to do this: whitelist the voiceprints and store them in the Active Directory – a process wherein a customer who uses the voice recognition system is enrolled into a whitelisted member database, and his or her voice print is used as valid voice print for authentication.

Using the Active Directory, the unique voice cadence of each enrolled member is compared to both a whitelist of valid customer voiceprints and a blacklist of known fraudster voiceprints. While whitelist authentication is underway, passive fraud detection can be equipped to return an alert in real time - if the caller’s voice is a match to a record in the blacklist database.

Speaking up for Voice Biometrics: The Future of Authentication

As the technology goes main stream, the advantages of voice recognition are becoming clearer. It paves the way for greater efficiencies and stronger security. Paying bills through voice recognition, for instance, speeds up the process, and eliminates manual entry of password and other details for improved accuracy and consumer satisfaction. Consumers’ increasing dependence on voice search and organizational platforms with machine-to-machine communication capabilities are set to considerably impact the future of commerce, payments, and home devices. This presents enterprises with an opportunity to leverage the trend to their advantage. Once a customer is enrolled in the voice recognition system, his/her voiceprint can be seamlessly accessed across a company’s support channels, resulting in a seamless customer experience.

Sugantha Chinnaswamy is a domain consultant with TCS’ HiTech business unit. She has 10 years of experience in technology consulting, solution design, and program management, and has worked with several of TCS’ airlines and high tech clients. Chinnaswamy has a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Applications from Madurai Kamaraj University, India, and an MBA in Human Resources from Madras University, Chennai, India.