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Your Voice is Your Password


Latest trends with voice and other biometric passwords


Traditional access control has been based on token identification systems, like passwords, driver’s license, or passport. However, the trend is that devices are getting smarter about determining who you are by adding more sensors like cameras and microphones. Increasingly sensors are being used to identify biometric markers of a person, including but not limited to typing rhythm, gait and voice.

Given the vulnerability of usernames and passwords — not to mention the friction of having to use multiple passwords for different programs — new authentication techniques are advancing quickly, such as biometrics and tools that use existing technology in newer mobile phones, tablets and laptops. Biometric authentication is becoming more robust with the strong ability to detect recorded replay. Tremendous growth has been seen in the telecom, financial, government, and healthcare sectors with consumer electronics and call centers leading the way. Soon automobile, tv, and other appliances will be introduced with this convenience and security.

However, these possible advances also come with risks: As the New York Times reports, “The most serious problem with biometrics,” said Tal Be’ery, a senior Web researcher at Imperva, “is that ‘once your digital biometric signature is compromised, you cannot even replace it.’” So we might see it used in a combination of other methods for a multi-factor authentication. The multi-factor authentication requires matching two or three factors, usually a knowledge factor (“something the user knows“), a possession factor (“something the user has“), and an inherence factor (“something the user is“).

Another problem is reliability.  If you cut your finger, can you gain access with a fingerprint detector?  If you have a cold can you gain access by voice?  Is it acceptable for the technology to grant access only 99.9% of the time?  This would be unacceptable for unlocking your home or car.  Even this level is difficult to achieve.

Whatever the approach, the long-term trend is for an increased use of sensors and biometrics as one aspect of authentication to specifying access.

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