Five Ways to Protect Your Identity During Tax Season

As if tax season wasn’t painful enough already, the Internal Revenue Service reports that identity theft related to tax refund frauds continue to plague the American people and the economy at epidemic levels. While the numbers have decreased from highs around 2015, the IRS reports that tens of thousands of taxpayers are still victimized on an annual basis.

While you should be mindful of cybersecurity all year long, now is the time to be particularly vigilant, with Tax Day just around the corner. In an effort to ensure your protection, here are five ways that you can fight back against malicious actors this year.

Update passwords: Between our personal and professional lives, the average individual must keep track of about 25 passwords. With so much to remember, many people will use duplicated or incredibly simple passwords. This makes it easy for hackers to break the code and gain access to your entire network. Set up Tax Day as your annual day to update your passwords to make yourself a more elusive target.

Biometric authentification: Adding extra layers of authentification can also be a great way to protect yourself and your personal financial data. For best results, leverage biometric technology. While hackers can fake a signature, it’s much harder to replicate the unique markings of our fingerprints, voices, faces or eyes.

Encrypt your data: If you’re sending documents over to your tax accountant, don’t do it on the public Wi-Fi at Starbucks. Even if you have firewalls and anti-virus software on your device, you’re only as secure as the network on which you transmit files. Consider using an encrypted messaging service or a virtual private network for such sensitive documents.

Credit reports and SSA statements: Every year, you’re entitled to a free credit report and social security statement. If someone already has gotten hold of your information, you may find it in these reports. Maybe you’ll see a strange new card added to your credit report. Maybe you’ll see your personal information with someone else’s earnings reported on the SS statement. Check these out annually and you’ll catch fraud that has already occurred before your financial reputation is irrevocably destroyed.

Always have backup: What do you do if you’re targeted with ransomware and lose access to your tax documents or other financial records? If you don’t have back-up, you only have two options: pay up, or lose the information forever. Colocate vital data off-site in the cloud or a private server for starters. And of course, while less modern, it doesn’t hurt to have paper copies either.

There are fewer ways to destroy your finances more quickly than handing over your data to a thief. To learn more ways to protect your identity, click here.

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Money2020 Asia 2018

Three Takeaways From Money2020 Asia 2018

After a strong showing in the United States and Europe in recent years, one of the world’s premiere FinTech events, Money2020, headed to Singapore last week for Money2020 Asia 2018. In past years, we’ve kept a close watch on the latest happenings from the event, which you can check out here or here.

But what can we expect to come out of this year’s show, where thousands of attendees, vendors and industry experts will connect to explore the latest happenings in the FinTech space?

If you weren’t able to catch a flight to Singapore yourself, don’t worry—we’ve got you covered. Here are the top three stories to come out of this year’s event.

  1. Blockchain advances but cryptocurrency growing pains are far from over.
    No question, there’s a general consensus among Money2020 Asia attendees that blockchain is on the doorstep of revolutionizing FinTech across industries. But interestingly, there’s less certainty in regards to cryptocurrency applications. Consumers have reported widespread identity verification issues at exchanges, and this uncertainty may be starting to take its toll. Ironically, the cryptocurrency market lost $60 billion in value on the last day of the show this year following announced regulatory increases and Google’s advertising ban.
  2. Mobility continues to drive security concerns.
    The global mobile payment market is poised for a $3 trillion valuation by 2023—a clear indication that both businesses and consumers are going to continue leaning heavily on their personal mobile devices for all manner of transactions in the coming years. But security concerns continue to besiege mobile users, driving up interest in biometric solutions like voice-based identity verification.
  3. Artificial intelligence shows signs of life.
    With deep machine learning and artificial intelligence technology taking off, it should come as no surprise that AI left an impression at Money2020. Transaction tracking, identity theft and fraud detection are all among the top applications as platforms become more interoperable.

To stay up to date on the latest industry news or to learn more about how VoiceVault’s voice biometric authentication and identity verification solutions can support your business, click here.

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Meet Your New Biggest Cyberthreat Mobile Devices

Meet Your New Biggest Cyberthreat: Mobile Devices

Over the last several years, your business has been relying more and more on its mobile devices to operate. Now, all of your employees have smartphones and tablets. They use them for everything from processing payments to collecting data to communicating.

Here’s the problem, though: These devices are not secure. In fact, in a recent study 93 percent of organizations agreed that mobile devices present a serious and growing cyberthreat.

The report also found that:

  • 32 percent of companies admitted to sacrificing mobile security to improve performance;
  • 79 percent stated that the disruption of business operations is a bigger threat than the theft of data; and
  • 79 percent fear employee misuse.

Of course, the hardest step is admitting that you have a mobile security problem. Once you understand the scope of the cyberthreat, you can start taking immediate actions to improve your business’s mobile security strategy.

As you assess your mobile cybersecurity strategy, remember to consider taking a multifactor authentication approach that utilizes multiple systems to protect employee accounts. Give your employees access to a variety of authentication tools, and let them decide which ones work best for them. This could include voice biometric identity verification, strong passwords and security questions, or facial, iris or fingerpint scanners.

Remember that the more security checkpoints you add to your mobile device, the more secure your device will be. However, they need to be easy for employees to use or it could impact morale and productivity.

To learn more about how VoiceVault can bolster your company’s cybersecurity strategy, click here. Developers can also access a free trial here.

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There’s No Easy Solution to Cybersecurity

Many business leaders today are still operating under the belief that cybersecurity is a simple fix — and that a single provider or solution can protect your business.

Until this way of thinking is corrected, cybersecurity will remain a top challenge for businesses.

The fact is that if you want to keep your business safe on the Internet today, it requires embracing a fundamental shift in how you approach the subject. Cybersecurity today is an around-the-clock job that requires using a variety of different technologies and strategies.

You can’t, in other words, rely on anti malware software anymore and expect it to work. But if you use it as part of a wider strategy that incorporates many different and layered protections, it can work.

Here is an example of what a robust cybersecurity strategy is comprised of today:

Physical access controls: All computing devices and equipment should be protected with strong identity verification controls, to protect unauthorized users from accessing core network services.

Regular patching: All hardware and software needs to be regularly monitored for security updates, to protect hackers from exploiting vulnerabilities.

Real-time network monitoring: Anomalies cannot go overlooked. They need to be detected and investigated in real-time in order to prevent them from spreading across the network.

Rapid-response troubleshooting: Cyberattacks can happen at any hour, not just when employees are in front of their desks. Businesses need cybersecurity experts in place to spring to action as soon as they are needed.

Employee education and awareness: A business is only as strong as its weakest cybersecurity link. Employees need to be aware of the threat landscape, so that they know what to avoid online.

Mobile security: Mobile devices are now considered to be one of the top threats facing enterprises today. As such, organizations need to use multifactor security to protect company and employee-owned devices. Strong password hygiene and biometrics should be used together for maximum protection.

VoiceVault is a leader in cloud-based voice biometric identity verification, and can provide critical support to enhance your company’s cybersecurity.

To learn more about VoiceVault, click here.

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How to Fight Password Leak

How to Fight Password Leak

The recent false missile alert at the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency (HEMA) brought to light a serious security vulnerability that all businesses should take note of. And it has nothing to do with rockets.

Business Insider analyzed several press photos from HEMA headquarters, and discovered on one a sticky note, taped to a computer screen, with “password” written on it. This was followed by a series of characters.

As of right now, it isn’t clear whether there is a connection between the visible password and the false alarm that made national headlines for the panic that it caused. The incident, however, is a reminder about how careless employees can be with passwords — and the risks that this can pose for an organization.

This is a great example of “password leak” which occurs when a company loses control over its login credentials. Every time an employee writes down a password, or stores it in an insecure location, it puts the company’s sensitive information at risk. As this shows, passwords can be easily lost, shared or stolen.

So, what can be done to prevent password sprawl?

First and foremost, remind your employees to be smart about using passwords. Tell them not to hide passwords in plain sight, and to consider memorizing them prevent them from falling into the wrong hands. You can also supplement your company’s passwords with advance biometric-based solutions.

VoiceVault can be used in conjunction with additional third party biometrics solutions to enhance your mobile security strategy and prevent unauthorized users from stealing your company’s information.

For more information about VoiceVault, click here.

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How Do Consumers Feel About Biometrics?

For years, all we have been hearing about in the biometric security space is how demand is growing, and how businesses are integrating them at a high pace.

This begs the question, though: How do customers feel about biometrics?

Many business leaders are still concerned that consumers are not ready to submit biometric samples like fingerprint, facial or iris scanners when logging into accounts or verifying transactions. But as it turns out, consumers are actually overwhelmingly in favor of biometric solutions.

According to a recent study from MasterCard— which recently announced consumers will be able to use biometrics for payments— 93 percent of consumers prefer biometrics over passwords when validating transactions. And banks are reporting that when biometric authentication is used, customers are more inclined to complete their purchases. Cart abandonment rates have been found to drop by as much as 70 percent compared to other types of methods like SMD and single password-based systems.

Part of the reason why these types of solutions don’t work well with biometrics is that they are inconvenient. Consumers don’t like waiting, in other words, for SMS codes to be delivered to their phones. And passwords can still be lost or forgotten.

It’s for this reason why many companies, especially banks, are turning to voice biometric identity verification for their mobile security needs. Voice biometrics can work alongside any other type of verification technology, and all it requires is a microphone. Voice biometrics are a quick, painless and secure way for customers to verify their identities.

To learn more about how VoiceVault can help your company move forward with biometric-based security, click here. A free developer trial is also available here.

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Why You Need More Than Just Facial Recognition Protection

There is no denying the popularity of facial recognition software, as the global market is on pace to reach $8.74 billion by 2022 at a compound annual growth rate of 17.83. It’s quickly becoming one of the most popular types of biometric identity verification technologies, and is rapidly spreading across all vertical markets.

As such, you may be in a position where you are wondering whether facial recognition is the right technology for your business’s mobile users. Is it worth investing in facial recognition software, or should you look to other types of security technologies?

Keep in mind that while facial recognition is useful, it’s not the most secure type of biometric security. Researchers have discovered, for instance, that Windows 10’s “Hello” security feature, which uses facial recognition, can be spoofed with a  photograph. And another group of researchers successfully created a backdoor into a facial-recognition system, enabling hacker wearing glasses to trick the system into thinking they are the real user.

Here is our take on the issue:

Facial recognition may be vulnerable to certain types of fraudulent attacks, but that doesn’t mean that you should fear using it. Just don’t make it your only mobile security solution. Instead, think of it like a locked glass door in front of a heavy wooden door; in other words, layer it on top of other types of security technologies that are harder to spoof like voice biometrics and iris scanners. This type of strategy is called multifactor security. It’s a way of providing extra protection to your sensitive accounts, in a way that is also convenient to an end user.

To learn more about how voice biometrics can enhance your company’s mobile security, click here.

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Fight Back Against Fraud in 2018 with Voice Biometrics

Fight Back Against Fraud in 2018 with Voice Biometrics

In 2018, there is one problem that executives across the U.S. should be thinking about: Consumer fraud.

With 2016 being the year that saw an all time high in identity fraud, when about 15.4 million consumers fell victim to identity theft or fraud — an increase of 16 percent from 2015, experts predicted an “all-out assault” on consumers in 2017. While the final stats aren’t in yet, we are almost certain to see a significant year-over-year spike in consumer fraud cases for this past year.

A big reason why fraud is getting worse is that more and more consumer information is now winding up online, in Deep Web marketplaces where it can be easily bought at an affordable price. The recent Equifax data breach, for instance, exposed the personal records of hundreds of millions of Americans. Now, hackers are chomping at the bit to use this information for their own financial gain.

So, what is your business doing to protect against consumer fraud?  It may be time to take a closer look at your fraud prevention strategy.

One of the easiest and most effective ways to eliminate fraud is to authenticate customers with voice biometric identity verification — along with passwords and other types of biometric technologies — when logging in and completing orders. This is called a multimodal security strategy. By asking customers to authenticate themselves using multiple unique identifiers, you can make it much harder for fraudsters to spoof the system and gain unauthorized access to information.

VoiceVault makes it easy to implement voice biometrics into any device or mobile application. To learn more about how VoiceVault can protect your organization from fraud, click here.

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2017 In Biometrics: A Recap

As we begin 2018, it’s a good time to stop and reflect on all that’s happened over the last 12 months in the biometrics space. It’s been an exciting year, and one that has been full of exciting industry advancements.

Here are a few of our favorite headlines from 2017:

Wells Fargo CEO endorses voice biometrics: The year started off on a high note, when Wells Fargo CEO Tim Sloan endorsed voice biometrics while giving a presentation at the FinTech Ideas Festival. Voice biometrics was ranked as third on Sloan’s list of disruptive technologies that will change banking. It was great to see biometrics recognized as a top technology by a major global bank.

Major Bank Adopts Voice Biometrics: The financial industry again made headlines in April, when Australia’s ANZ bank announced plans to offer customers voice biometric identity verification to protect high-value transactions exceeding $1,000. Now, customers can use their voiceprint for authentication purposes. We expect more banks to follow suit in 2018.

VoiceVault releases Fusion 9: In June, VoiceVault released the latest version of Fusion 9, our leading voice biometric engine. This is the most secure and flexible voice biometrics solution that we have released yet. Fusion 9 allows customers to select from hybrid, cloud and on-device-based deployment solutions.

This New Year, take some time to think about your security strategy for 2018. To learn more about how voice biometrics can help, click here. You can also sign up for a free developer trial by clicking here.

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Customers Report Identity Verification Issues at Cryptocurrency Exchange

The digital user experience is now a top concern for financial service customers, including customers utilizing cryptocurrency. Customers need to be able to move in and out of their accounts and make transactions without a hitch.

When the user experience is affected, customers get upset — and may seek out competitors offering solutions that are more operationally sound.

This example recently came up when news broke about Las Vegas cryptocurrency exchange Bittrex.  Customers have been complaining that they are having problems withdrawing money from their accounts — and that Bittrex isn’t being very helpful in resolving their issues.

This problem has been going on for about a month now.

As explained in Business Insider, the problem is related to Bittrex’s multifactor identity verification system. Bittrex currently asks users for two-step verification when making transactions. There is an initial prompt for identity followed by an enhanced verification that requires submitting a passport, government ID or selfie.

As of right now, it’s still not clear what is causing the issue. However, it’s an important lesson for cryptocurrency and financial service providers alike:

If you are going to offer multifactor authentication for your customers, it’s critical to implement a high quality — and fail proof— solution that will not interfere with customers when they are making transactions. Authentication needs to be secure, and convenient.

VoiceVault offers one of the most resilient and responsive voice biometric identity verification solutions on the market. Plus, VoiceVault is backed by a team of expert developers offering rapid-response troubleshooting and support.

To learn more about VoiceVault, try a free developer trial today.

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