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News

Voice authentication could decouple access from base data.

VeCommerce : 28 November, 2007  (Technical Article)
VeCommerce argues that the impact of data loss incidents could be minimised if there was less dependence on the raw data from identification.
VeCommerce believes that the loss of two disks containing the personal details of 25 million UK citizens by HMRC (Her Majesty's Revenue and Customers) office, would have been less cause for alarm, if it was possible to reduce the reliance on sensitive data to enable fraud.

General Manager for EMEA at VeCommerce, Brett Feldon comments, "The HMRC incident is just the 'tip of an iceberg', and is only a manifestation of what is happening regularly on a smaller scale, every single day. Unfortunately it has taken a larger breach such as this, to bring the issue to a wider audience. Yes, there were certainly shortfalls in HMRC's security procedures, but the risks come from the fact that individuals have access to sensitive information. These can include a large range of groups including professional hackers organised crime or even a call centre operative. The question is less about 'how secure is our data' but why are we relying so heavily on this data for verification purposes. If we didn't this whole incident would have been a non issue".

"What should be more closely scrutinised is how it might be possible to nullify the effects of personal data falling into the wrong hands. At present, this type of information, that it is assumed only the legitimate individual has access to, is used to verify someone's identity and subsequently gives them the power to open bank accounts, make purchases, transfer funds or even apply for a passport under someone else's name."

He continues, "One technological advancement that could address this is the wider adoption of biometrics that could ultimately replace the reliance on sensitive personal information. Using individual voice prints for example would by-pass the need for this data, therefore losing it would be embarrassing for the organisation concerned, but not dangerous. UK financial institutions are already looking into this, whilst insurance companies in Australia have already adopted voice biometrics as a means of authenticating account holders on the phone."

He concludes, "A technology solution also limits access to data to a few IT technicians, normally located in the same location. Isn't it far more secure and more cost-effective in the long-run to allow just a few trained IT personnel access to this sensitive data, rather than try and train and control literally thousands of call centre staff and administrators, distributed around the world."

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