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voice authentication

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Companies will be looking to voice authentication for enhanced security measures that prevent hacking and fraud, says contact centre industry specialists INOVO.

Leaked data exposes businesses and customers

A database of more than 30 million South Africans was recently leaked online, including estimated incomes‚ addresses, and cellphone numbers; one of the country’s top real estate companies has admitted to being the source. The personal information that was published also reportedly contains names and surnames, identity numbers, employer details, gender, ethnicity, home ownership as well as other contact information which could be used for crimes like identity theft.

In addition to this data leak, according to the 2017 Ransomware Digital Disruptor Report, 49 percent of companies experienced a ransomware attack in 2016, mostly in business and professional services, healthcare, retail and government.

The threat of identity theft

To illustrate the vulnerability posed by such breaches, Dominic White conducted an experiment to show how easily an attacker in South Africa can gain access to your online profiles using a small amount of data, because identity verification policies are common across industries, allowing you to reset the passwords of online services offered by companies.

White used the data of a coworker (with permission) and phoned the contact centre of their medical aid. He convinced the operator he was the coworker by quoting the ID and cellphone number of the individual, and then changed the contact details on file to numbers and email addresses he controlled.

From there, he reset the password of his coworker’s online profile and gained access to the ID numbers and full names of his dependents, and their recent medical records. Simple, but effective.

Sealing the vault

With the shift to digital, and the use of data in driving business strategies, businesses can be vulnerable to unscrupulous hackers and fraudsters, and, by default, their customers can also have their information compromised.

Wynand Smit, CEO of INOVO, believes these stories are more than just alarmist:

“Data security in business can no longer be viewed as an afterthought, you must devise failsafe means of protecting data, accounts and information to ensure that your company’s reputation is flawless among your consumers, and that they can continue to trust your business. This goes for every aspect where data is obtained, utilised and stored, from identity verification to updating databases,” Smit comments.

Identity verification enhancements

In financial services, contact centres have relied on security questions as a means of industry compliance in positive identification, but this method is vulnerable: fraudsters can pretend to be the customer and even use the security process to learn more about that customer through unsuspecting agents. Voice authentication, however, closes this (and other potential) loopholes down.

The technology works by recording the voice of the customer either in response to prompts or passively while the customer is on a voice call with the contact centre. This recording is converted into a sophisticated digital voiceprint that is unique to that customer and based on individual speech patterns that are undetectable by the human ear. This is then used to instantly verify a customer’s identity when they call the contact centre. All inbound voice calls are also compared with a database of known fraudsters in real-time – enabling companies to pro-actively flag identity theft attempts before they occur.

This method of identity verification is far more secure and less invasive than older forms of authentication and has added benefits for company and customers alike.

“Companies will be able to continue to do business without the disruption, and potential reputational damage caused by data breaches, while also streamlining their workflow and internal processes to deliver a better service to their customers,” Smit concludes.

Use of voice recognition cuts down on the time used for identification by as much as 70%. Time savings translate to improved efficiency and productivity, which is turn drives profitability and a vastly improved customer experience.


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