Weak Account Security Blamed in Deloitte Data Breach

Weak Account Security Blamed in Deloitte Data Breach

This week news broke about a major data breach at Deloitte, one of the world’s Big Four accounting firms.

Sources indicate that hackers were able to break into a company email server, where they were able to obtain at least five million of its clients’ records. The stolen information is believed to have included emails, business plans, sensitive documents, workers’ healthcare records and IP addresses.

Experts think the breach started back in October of 2016, and wasn’t discovered until March of this year. Deloitte has been aware of the situation, and has been actively investigating the matter over the last several months.

What’s interesting is how hackers were able to get into the network. According to Engadget, the breach originated from an administrator’s account that was protected only with a password. The account had no two-step, or multifactor, authentication.

If the account had been protected with two-step verification, like a voice, fingerprint or iris scanner, or even security questions or a personal identification number (PIN), it’s possible that the hacker would have been blocked from getting inside. The individual may have simply given up, finding it too difficult to enter the network, and moved on — sparing Deloitte of a security incident.

Now is therefore a good time to reflect on your own company’s digital security technologies. Does your business have the necessary protections in place to prevent hackers from breaking into personal accounts?

Voice biometric identity verification is one of the most convenient, affordable and effective ways to enhance digital security. With the help of VoiceVault, you can easily embed voice biometrics into all of your applications and endpoints.

To learn more, click here. For a free developer trial, click here.

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How One School District is Using Biometrics to Streamline Lunch Counts

A growing number of school systems are now using biometric technologies to streamline internal processes and prove compliance with state programs.

The Hazelton Area School District, for instance, is now using biometric identity verification to prove that they are feeding the actual number of students they claim to be serving on a daily basis.

According to Biometric Update, students across the district have been receiving free lunches since 2015 following a federal initiative to deal with hunger. And now, the school system needs to prove that it is in compliance, and that their reports are accurate.

As such, the district has installed fingerprint scanners at the lunch counter — allowing students to move through lines faster than they would using traditional systems like ID scanners or account numbers.

Here at VoiceVault, we applaud the district’s decision to approve and implement biometric identity verification technology in its schools. However, we want to remind other school districts considering this option that fingerprint scanners are not the only identity verification solution on the market.

Face biometric readers, for instance could be used to take pictures of students at the register. And voice biometrics could be used, too. Recent technological advances have made voice biometrics systems much more conducive for noisy atmospheres like school lunchrooms. Plus, they are the most secure out of all the biometric technologies on the market. Voiceprints, it should be noted, cannot be hacked and stolen by cybercriminals.

What’s more, both face and voice scanners are more sanitary for a cafeteria as they would not require students to press any buttons before touching their food.

Our hope is that more school systems will use biometrics to prove federal compliance and streamline efficiencies in the future. To learn more about how VoiceVault can help with this initiative, click here.

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Equifax Breach Could Produce Spike in Fraudulent Transactions

Consumer credit reporting agency Equifax announced a data breach this week that could impact upwards of 143 million customers.

Sources indicate that the breach was actually discovered on July 29, when Equifax realized that hackers had gained access to their system. The company believes that hackers were inside of its network from May until July.

Equifax is now working with local and federal law enforcement agencies to rectify the situation, and is in the process of notifying affected customers about the breach. The company is sending out notifications via mail.

The bad news here is that the list of stolen information was very extensive. Hackers were able to access customer names, dates of birth, Social Security numbers, addresses and even driver’s license numbers.

What’s more, as many as 209,000 Equifax customers had their credit card information stolen. And 182,000 more customers had data lifted from dispute documents.

This is no breach to take lightly, as 143 million customers amounts to roughly 45 percent of the U.S. population. This means a large portion of your own customers were probably affected.  This information could easily be used by criminals to assume your own customers’ identities and conduct fraudulent transactions against your organization.

One way to protect your business from fraud following this massive data breach is to offer enhanced safeguards for account logins and transactions. Voice biometric identity verification, for instance, could be used to securely authenticate customers over the phone or a mobile device. Customers would simply have to recite a short phrase to be granted access into their accounts.

Voice biometrics could be used alongside additional biometric security technologies like facial scanners or fingerprint readers, as well as traditional solutions like security questions, passwords and personal identification numbers.

So the big takeaway here is that the market was just flooded with a trove of sensitive consumer data. It’s time to take action to protect your private accounts.

To learn more about how VoiceVault can help, click here.

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Study Shows Sharp Spike in Biometric Payment Adoption

The recent explosion in cybercrime has forced business leaders across all vertical markets to seek stronger methods of identity verification during transactions.

One technology that is receiving a great deal of attention right now is biometric identity verification. According to a new study from Juniper Research, the total number of mobile payments authenticated by biometrics will increase to 2 billion in 2017. This is a massive biometric payment adoption increase from the 600 million payments that were authenticated with biometrics last year.

What’s more, the mobile biometrics market will continue growing at a compound annual growth rate of 29.3 percent through 2022, which is further evidence of its rising popularity. So if you are just now considering biometrics, rest assured — your company will not be the only one using it.

Why is biometric authentication suddenly so popular? Once seen as a new and unproven technology, biometric identity verification has become much more commonplace. This is due to the proliferation of technologies like Apple Pay, Samsung Pay and Android Pay. This year, 60 percent of all smartphone models will ship with embedded fingerprint sensors.

So, are you considering moving forward and adopting biometric payment authentication? If so, it’s important not to rush into an installation. There are several foundational elements that need to be in place in order to have a successful authentication system — like user experience (UX), interoperability, security, modality performance and privacy. These points make up the Five Factor Framework, a system developed by Oxford University and Mastercard for financial service providers. These points can be universally applied to any industry.

VoiceVault has a tremendous resource section, offering developers guidance and support for voice biometric identity verification.

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Fraud Prevention Blacklists Are a Bad Idea

Fraud and identity theft remain two of the biggest problems facing consumers today. Last year, for instance, both cost consumers over $16 billion. Altogether, about 15.4 million consumers were impacted — an increase of 16 percent from 2015.

In an effort to reduce both identity theft and fraud, some companies are now experimenting with preventative “blacklists.” These lists are designed to automatically flag and block suspicious customer names, email addresses, accounts and mailing addresses.

It may seem like a natural fit to use voice biometric identity verification as part of a blacklisting strategy. Unfortunately, though, it’s not that simple. And here at VoiceVault, we do not support the practice of blacklisting.
The main reason why blacklists are not advisable is that fraudsters have already found a way to bypass them. Fraudsters are now calling random consumers, tricking them into making a statement and recording their voices. These stolen voice samples can be used to create fraudulent transactions. Then, when innocent victims go to make normal transactions, they are in many cases being denied because their voice is blacklisted.

So as you can see, blacklists can actually do more harm than good for customers. Instead of creating a blacklisted database, the safer and far more effective alternative is to ask customers to use voice biometric identity verification when signing up for services. VoiceVault, for instance, is specifically engineered to identify and block voice recordings. So if a fraudster attempts to use a spoofed voiceprint during a transaction, it will be picked up immediately and the caller will be denied access.

Voice biometric identity verification, it should be noted, can also be used alongside additional identity verification technologies like facial or fingerprint scanners, passwords and security questions for enhanced security.
To learn more about voice biometrics, click here.

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Does User Aging Impact Voice Biometric Authentication?

Have you ever had a conversation with someone that you haven’t spoken with in many years, and thought their voice sounded different? As it turns out, it probably was.

The vocal system — comprised of the vocal and nasal tracts — are directly supported by the lungs, nervous and hearing systems. Altogether it takes between 70 and 100 muscles to make a sound. As these systems change over time, they alter the speed and volume of a person’s voice. A common example is hearing loss, which can cause a person to speak much differently than they typically would.

Research shows that between the ages of 48 and 68, the voice will actually dip in frequency. And between the ages of 68 and 98, it rises again.

Aging presents one of the top challenges for developers when designing voice biometric authentication systems. Unlike fingerprints, which do not change with time, voice biometric systems need to account for all of the different variables that can impact user authentication.

VoiceVault’s voice biometric engine, was specifically designed to account for voice changes over a prolonged period. This is possible because VoiceVault measures many different aspects of a user’s voiceprint — like the average pitch of their voice, the speed which they talk and the amount of time between sounds.

This intelligent system is even able to take into account daily fluctuations in users’ voices. For instance, if a user loses his or her voice or comes down with a cold, that person will still be able to log in as they would if they were sounding normal.

To learn more about voice biometrics, click here.

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secure google glass 2.0 with voice biometrics

Secure Google Glass 2.0 with Voice Biometrics

Google Glass is back after a two-year hiatus. And this time, it’s being re-packaged as an enterprise wearable.

This version, Google Glass 2.0, contains many improvements like a longer battery life, improved resolution (at 8 megapixels), a stronger processor, faster WiFi speeds and even an indicator for recording videos.

Perhaps the biggest improvement, though, is the fact that the device’s processor can now be removed from Google’s headset and used with other types of eyewear. This makes Google Glass much more conducive for enterprise use, especially in factories where employees have to switch between different types of eyewear throughout the day.

But the product’s removable nature also presents a security challenge for companies that are using it. The easier a product is to take apart, the more likely it is to get lost or stolen —especially in busy manufacturing environments where employees are liable to leave pieces hanging around on desks and near equipment.

If an unprotected Google Glass headset were to fall into the wrong hands, it could allow the user easy access into restricted applications or resources — opening the doors to many different types of risk, ranging from intellectual property theft to physical damage.

VoiceVault’s ViGo Wear allows developers to protect Google Glass with a custom-designed visual or audio interface for registrations and logins. With the help of ViGo Wear, users can log into their Google Glass 2.0 systems using their unique voiceprint. It simply requires reciting a short digit or word-based phrase.

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America’s Guard is Still Down With Identity Theft

You would think that by now, after years of seeing cybersecurity updates in the headlines, most consumers would have a basic understanding about how to stay safe online and from identity theft.

Unfortunately, this does not appear to be the case.

According to a new study from Experian, half of the consumers that were polled think they will never experience identity theft because a poor credit limit makes them unappealing targets.

What’s more, a quarter of consumers have shared their credit card number or personal identification number (PIN) with friends and family members. And 20 percent would allow a friend or family member to use their personally identifiable information to get a job or credit.

These are just a few of the troubling statistics that appear in the report. For instance, 66 percent of respondents believed that the threat of identity theft will diminish over time after personally identifiable information is stolen.

Only 44 percent of respondents knew that the risk of identity theft can last for a lifetime.

Plus, the study shows that most consumers find the task of monitoring their financial services so challenging that they only rely on banks and credit card companies to catch fraudulent activity.

You may not have the power to change your customers’ minds about cybersecurity risks, but you do have the power to make identity protection fast and convenient for them.

One way to accomplish this is to supplement your mobile application, website and contact center with biometric identity verification solutions like voice, fingerprint, iris and face scanners. It is recommended that businesses implement a variety of these technologies, so that customers have several options to choose from.

To learn more about voice biometric identity verification, click here.

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Mobile Devices Are a Top Threat to Enterprise Security

Rest assured, your employees are using smartphones and tablets at work whether you have a “bring your own device” policy or not. Mobile devices are the fastest and most convenient way to chat, search for information and communicate with team members.

Unfortunately, they can also be considered a top enterprise security threat based on the findings from a study conducted by Dimensional Research.

Of the 412 enterprise security leaders that were questioned in the survey, 64 percent don’t believe that their organization has the security software to stop a cyberattack on their mobile devices.

Here are some other terrifying statistics from the study:

  • 20 percent of companies have been victims of a cyberattack through their mobile devices, while 24 percent have no idea if they have been compromised.
  • 94 percent of security professionals claimed they expect a cyberattack on their mobile devices within the next 12 months.
  • 97 percent believe that cyberattacks through mobile devices are increasing.

Unfortunately, there is a big disconnect occurring here.

Respondents appear to be well-aware that their companies aren’t taking mobile security seriously enough, with over half indicating that their company hadn’t used a mobile security solution. And yet, little is being done to change this.

One reason for this is a lack of resources. 53 percent of respondents claimed they could not afford strong security solutions. Other organizations may have a lack of executive awareness or support, an unwillingness to change or concerns about implementing a mobile security policy that would restrict and alienate workers.

Voice biometric identity verification is one cost-effective, and easy technologies that can help enterprises improve mobile security.

“Voice is a unique biometric,” explained VoiceVault EVP of Sales and Marketing Julia Webb during a recent Biometric Authentication podcast. “Unlike other biometric voice can be used anywhere there is a microphone, which makes it inexpensive to deploy. And it can be just as accurate as other biometric technologies such as EyeVerify, which was recently acquired by Alibaba, or even [Apple’s} Touch ID. And all we need is a small amount of speech in order to authenticate an individual.”

Want to learn more about mobile voice biometric identity verification? Try our free developer trial today!

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Still Using Passwords

Still Using Passwords?

According to a recent report from Verizon, weak and stolen passwords are still a leading factor in enterprise data breaches. In fact, the odds of getting hacked via password are greater than any other method.

Does this mean you should immediately migrate away from passwords? It may be unrealistic to suggest this, as your users may still prefer using them on their devices.

While passwords may not be going away any time soon, though, your company can at least start looking for new ways of fortifying them so that they cannot be easily exploited by hackers.  It’s possible, for instance, to layer additional security technologies alongside passwords — one being voice biometric identity verification.

What should you do if your business isn’t quite ready for voice biometrics?

Here’s something to look into:

Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Chicago have created a new tool that takes passwords and compares them to a large database of codes that have been made publicly-available from leaks.  This tool will scan a password to make sure it hasn’t been used by a user on another website, and it will make sure that the password does not follow a common pattern. As Forbes explained, the tool also checks passwords against common dictionary terms.

Of course, we can speculate that in time hackers will find a way to use this new tool to break more complex passwords. But in the meantime, it should suffice as a quick fix while your organization considers integrating more advanced security measures.

When you’re ready to give voice biometrics a try, head over to VoiceVault’s demo section where you will find free trials of our software.

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