Use Voice Biometrics to Combat Synthetic Identity Fraud

Use Voice Biometrics to Combat Synthetic Identity Fraud

Security experts are now warning about a new problem that is proliferating in the wake of the recent Equifax data breach: Synthetic identity fraud.

In short, fraudsters are now taking pieces of information from different identity theft victims and piecing them together to create brand new identities. Think of it like a “Franken-identity,” which may use the Social Security number of one person, the name of another and an address from a third individual. Together, these credentials can be used to create something that had not previously existed.

These new identities, which are often referred to by the slang name “fullz,” are being bought and sold on the black market at a frightening pace. According to Biometric Update, there has been a 112-percent YoY increase in synthetic identity fraud. It’s currently the fastest-growing form of identity theft, and we expect it to continue well into the future now that there is an abundance of consumer data floating around the dark Web.

For this reason, security experts are now advising companies to look deeper into customers’ credentials when approving and enrolling them in services. A person may look official over the phone or on paper, but on the end it could very well be a hacker using the bits and pieces of many different identities to spoof the system.

Voice biometric identity verification can be used to further protect customers after they are enrolled, as it’s the most secure form of all the biometric technologies on the market — and the least likely to get hacked.

To learn more information about voice biometrics, click here.

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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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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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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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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.

To get started, click here.

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Study Highlights Alarming Power of Financial Malware

Study Highlights Alarming Power of Financial Malware

Financial institutions are now facing an uphill battle in the war against cybercrime. According to a new study from Symantec, the malware that hackers are using to target financial institutions has gotten extremely dangerous.

“As we had predicted in 2015, we saw an increase in attacks against corporations and financial institutions themselves during 2016,” stated Candid Wueest in the report. “With more than 1.2 million annual detections, the financial threat space is still 2.5 times bigger than that of ransomware.”

Here are some additional items of interest from the report:

  • Ramnit was the most active financial Trojan last year. It was responsible for 38 percent of [nefarious] activity.
  • At least 170 mobile applications were targeted for credential stealing.
  • Financial institutions in the U.S. were targeted the most out of any other country.

The report also mentioned social engineering as a major threat that financial companies are now facing. Hackers are now going to great lengths to spoof employees into surrendering sensitive information.

In light of this report, financial companies should strongly consider building advanced authentication tools into the framework of their digital applications and contact center communications systems.

We encourage financial companies to take a multifactor approach to user authentication by implementing a variety of different security technologies. This should include both traditional and biometric systems. For instance, passwords and personal identification numbers (PINS) could be offered alongside voice biometric, iris, face and fingerprint readers.

Why use a multifactor strategy? There are two major benefits: It provides an extra layer of security for users, and it’s more convenient.

To learn more about VoiceVault’s approach to security, click here.

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Banks and Fintechs: Use Multifactor Authentication to Reduce Operational Risks

Over the last year or so, there has been a significant uptick in the number of financial institutions leveraging disruptive financial technology (fintech) services. Third party fintech providers are now streamlining everything from payment processing and lending to wealth management.

As these two industries continue to merge, though, cybersecurity is quickly becoming a growing concern to U.S. policymakers and regulatory agencies. Just recently, for instance, a group of business leaders from the fintech industry travelled to Washington, D.C. for a series of important discussions with the Federal Reserve Board (FRB), Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) and Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC).

While cybersecurity wasn’t the only topic that was discussed, it was a big one.

According to The Hill, U.S. regulators are worried about operational risks associated with the use of novel technologies in financial settings. As such, regulators and policymakers expect financial institutions to “meet high standards for the due diligence and monitoring of their third-party service providers, especially around cybersecurity and data security.”

Of course, identity verification is a major piece of the cybersecurity puzzle for banks and fintechs. And one way that companies can strengthen authentication and reduce fraud is to embed multifactor security options into their applications — providing extra security options beyond traditional passwords and personal identification numbers (PINs).

While this may sound difficult, it can be easily accomplished by working with a company like BioConnect, a VoiceVault partner and creator of the BioConnect Identity Platform which supports a range of enterprise-grade biometric technologies including face, fingerprint and iris scanners. The BioConnect Identity Platform also utilizes VoiceVault’s cutting-edge voice biometric identity verification technology. Fintechs can use the BioConnect Identity Platform to obtain simple, user-friendly and highly-secure user identity verification.

“Ease of use, security and fraud reduction are major drivers as to why we’re seeing changes to identity verification within every day, run of the mill banking applications,” stated Bianca Lopes, Vice President of Strategic Marketing and Global Alliances for BioConnect. “VoiceVault has a brilliant track record and a sound voice recognition technology that will provide enterprise clients with ease of use, scalability and ultimately, greater choice by being a part of the BioConnect Identity Platform.”

To learn more about BioConnect, click here. To learn more about VoiceVault, click here.


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