Who Said That? Voice Biometrics for Caller Authentication

That Wasn’t Me (IVR Deconstructed) 

Voice biometrics are numerical models of characteristics (like the sound, pattern, and rhythm) within an individual’s voice, and are represented in a voiceprint of spoken qualities.

The technology often acts as a quick, convenient, and secure method of remotely determining an individual’s identity. So why haven’t more organizations integrated these functionalities into their IVR systems?

Click the link for the answer in a really good and concise post about voice biometrics. I’d also encourage you to check out other content at IVR Deconstructed, especially posts by Lisa, for even more thoughtful material on voice biometrics, privacy and logical access control.

In case you’re wondering, IVR stands for Interactive Voice Response. I have a name for the IVR technology used by call centers: The Robot Lady. You may also know it as the beast that can only be slain by frantically and repeatedly pressing zero.

See also: Voice Biometrics and ID Management in Call Centers

Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) Adopting Voice Biometrics

Press Release: TOEFL® Program Unveils State-of-the-Art Biometric Voice Identification Software to Increase Test Security Globally (News Blaze)

ETS, the creator of the TOEFL® test, announced the introduction of biometric voice identification to maintain fair and reliable TOEFL testing. The newly announced security measure provides an additional proven technique to add to the TOEFL program’s comprehensive security system in authenticating TOEFL test takers globally.

Similar to the highly advanced speaker identification platforms used by government and law enforcement agencies, the software uses statistical pattern matching techniques, advanced voice classification methods, and inputs from multiple systems to compare speech samples from TOEFL test takers. Launched earlier this month, the speaker identification system offers the ability to create voice prints for detailed analysis to validate TOEFL test takers. The new technology will be used as part of test security investigations in 2012 and beginning in 2013 will gradually be used on a larger scale.

“The inclusion of biometric voice identification technology is yet another tool in the TOEFL test security portfolio to ensure test integrity worldwide,” explains David Hunt, Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of ETS’s Global Division. “Including a state-of-the art speaker identification component to the TOEFL’s security system further strengthens our ability to detect attempts to gain an unfair advantage, a common concern in academia today. ETS is committed to identifying and implementing those protocols deemed most effective by leaders in the security industry in safeguarding against fraudulent behavior.”

ETS also administers the SAT test.

See also: New York: Seven Arrested For Alleged SAT Cheating Ring UPDATE: SAT, Biometrics & ROI

Any guess why ETS is considering hand-based biometrics for the SAT but voice-based biometrics for the TOEFL?

Fiji Gearing Up for Biometric Voter Registration

Elections office to start registration training soon (Fiji Times)

People will be encouraged to report to the VRC close to them for registration. Registration of one person will not take more than three minutes. This will include the filling out of appropriate forms, picture taken through web camera, identification of thumb print and the printing out of identification card. This identification card will be presented to the polling station during election in 2014.

Source: CIA World Factbook – Fiji

A First-Person Account of Life Without ID

“I have faced many difficulties because of a lack of proof of my identity. I remember one incident which jolted me, leading me to realise that I led a worthless existence.”

A unique, legally recognized individual identity is a prerequisite to any sort of decent society. It is an infrastructure without which many things those in the developed world take for granted simply cannot exist: compulsory primary education, successful immunization against preventable communicable disease, social safety nets, effective democracy, and more.

A Rare Biometric Deployment in a Hotel

I’m no hotelier but the management of a hotel seems to entail a multitude of tasks where biometrics could make things a lot easier, yet news of hotels adopting biometric solutions has been so scant that we’ve only used our ‘hotel’ label once.

Ibiza Hotel Trials Fingerprint Payment (Wall Street Journal)

It could be the solution to the age-old vacation question: Where do you put your wallet when you are dressed for the pool? Ibiza hotel Ushuaïa Beach claims to be the first in the world to introduce a fingerprint payment system.

Guests register their fingerprints to one or more credit cards. They can then pay for food, drinks and services simply by touching two fingers to a biometric reader.

This deployment reminds me of the Zoom Tan system.

Facial Recognition in Art: 15 Minutes of Biometric Fame

I like this one because it’s ever-so slightly seditious. If Google’s objective is to organize all the world’s information, 15 Minutes of Biometric Fame, in a very small way tries to make that job a little harder.

15 Minutes of Biometric Fame by Marnix de Nijs (MarnixdeNijs.nl)

A circular track is fitted with a camera crane mounted with an independently operated camera. The camera lens imposes on public space, seeking out and scanning the visitor’s facial features. Rather than identifying a person, the biometric video analysis software assists in comparing their characteristics with a preselected data base of “celebrity” faces.

Compiled by De Nijs from a series of multilingual online search results, the initial 75,000 strong data bank consisted of typical celebrity personages as well as those who have attained fame through exposure on reality television and from the world of internet video. Each individual is tagged with one of twelve categories of stardom in one of eleven languages. These can range from artist to rock or porn star through to soap actor and musician.

See also:
More posts on biometrics in art.

ID Entrepreneurs: Criminal Background Checks

Demand is high, the business is inherently local, and the US Postal Service doesn’t seem interested.

Checking backgrounds for a living (Journal-News – Hamilton, Ohio)

“There is a need now, and an even bigger need in the future, for employee background screenings,” Louderback said. “Anyone who works for the government or with kids has to have one.

“It’s a pretty untapped market,” she said. “Not a lot of people do it. There are opportunities out there. You just have to go out and get them. That’s the hardest part.”

ID is About People

Bridging India’s identity divide with a number (BBC)

In one of the world’s fastest growing economies, some 40% of people living in villages don’t have bank accounts, the number rising to three-fifths of people living in the east and north-east of India. (It is another matter that more than 40% of India’s earners have no savings.) One of the main reasons why they don’t have a bank account is that they have no definitive proof of who they are.

Also, identity – when available – is fickle and dubious.

You can’t be a fully-functioning member of the modern globalized world without a legitimate ID.

“Friends” a threat to your privacy? This facial recognition app might help.

App removes faces from Facebook (SC Magazine)

CeeQ uses sophisticated facial recognition technology developed by National ICT Australia (NICTA) under the $5 million-plus Advanced Surveillance biometric project completed last year.

“It’s designed to help users find photos they are in so they can contact the owners or Facebook to get them taken down,” Abbas Bigdeli, creator of the application and a lead developer at Advanced Surveillance, told SC at the Biometrics Institute conference.

Biometrics offer exciting possibilities for privacy-protection.

Related thoughts…
Security has a lot to do with trust and privacy is a lot like security. Because they’re trusted, it’s far easier for friends to undermine privacy than it is for strangers. They’re more likely to know your secrets and they’re more likely to be connected to those who might care about them. Surprise birthday parties aren’t always surprises.

h/t @HodgeBarry

Evolving Understanding of the Evolving Iris

Ageing eyes hinder biometric scans (Nature)

“One iris biometric marketing claim has been that the iris allowed ‘a single enrolment for a lifetime’. This claim is now proven to be false,” he says.

The likelihood of software incorrectly matching two irises from different people is around 1 in 2 million (known as the false match rate). So in practical terms, Bowyer’s results suggest that the false match rate for a system would increase to 2.5 in 2 million after three years had elapsed. This rate sounds low, but the effect appears to be cumulative, says Bowyer: “So although you might not really notice the problem after one year or two years, after five or ten years it can become a huge problem,” he explains.

But some are not convinced that the iris ageing effect will make a noticeable difference to the false match rate — even in huge national iris-identification schemes such as India’s, which so far has more than 200 million people enrolled. Biometrics expert Vijayakumar Bhagavatula of Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, says: “In my opinion, the impact of this research is to suggest that iris templates should be periodically updated.”

The iris isn’t the only thing that is changing over time, though. The matching algorithm changes, too. It seems to me that it’s important to know whether iris matching algorithms are becoming “smarter” faster than a person’s iris can change.

Customers should probably keep current on their support contract, just in case.

Biometric Systems: Hacking from the Outside In

Behind all the techno-jargon, Biometric bugs too dangerous for public? (ZDNet) is about biometric lock picking.

In the software world, if your system has a weakness, you can just fix the software, push out an update, and voila, all is well. If, however, your sensor hardware is buggy (i.e. the lock is easy to pick), you face the much more painful prospect of fixing/replacing each sensor.

Read the whole thing. The topic is very interesting from a technical point of view and does a good job of not overly hyping the issue.

Australia: Fingerprints Help ID and Administer Problem Drinkers

Unisys fingers repeat drunks in Northern Territory (IT Wire)

Drunk individuals taken into protective custody in the Northern Territory are being identified using a fingerprint biometric system implemented by Unisys.

One of the problems of dealing with people severely under the influence of alcohol is that they may be unwilling or unable to identify themselves, and not all members of the community carry identification.

In the NT, those who get into trouble with the law while intoxicated three times in three months are placed on the Banned Drinker Register (BDR), and cut off for a year.

More information on the Northern Territory banned drinker register [pdf]

Product Review: Military Grade Fingerprint USB Flash Drive

Imation Defender F200 Biometric Flash Drive Review: Secure but Slow (IDG – Norway)

The Defender F200 is not only stylish, it’s highly capable. The drive has been validated to Level 3 of the FIPS 140-2 government security guideline–a lengthy and expensive process. The device uses hardware AES 256-bit encryption and may be configured to use the biometric scanner, a password, or both for a double layer of security. You may also specify two separate fingers to be used for validation. Excuse the morbidity, but it’s recommended that you use a finger from each hand in case you lose the use of an arm. The F200 Biometric, you see, is designed for with the military in mind.

Scotland Yard Equipping Officers With Handheld Fingerprint Devices

Mobile fingerprint scanners to be adopted by Met Police (BBC)

The Metropolitan Police is the 25th force in the UK to have adopted the devices.

“Evidence has shown that a full identification arrest can tie-up both the subject and the police officer for several hours,” said the Metropolitan Police Service’s assistant commissioner Mark Rowley.

“Even a traditional identity check conducted on the street can take an extended period of time to complete.

A big question, of course, is the database these mobile devices communicate with.

Take that, Cilantro!

Software, norms delay UID Phase 2 (Hindustan Times via @francesIDexpert)

There are two major reasons for this slow take-off of the second phase of enrolment.

First is introduction of a new software to register enrolments with new fields for agencies to improve “quality of demographic data”. “All documents, including residence proof, have been made mandatory,” a UIDAI official said. Just not that, now the three biometrics — iris, fingerprints and face — will have to be taken in higher resolution for quicker and easier generation of Aadhaar numbers. The UIDAI has decided to carry out 100% manual check of all biometric exceptions — a person whose biometrics cannot be captured — to prevent a repeat in the second phase. Second is unwillingness of many agencies to adhere to new norms at the old price of maximum R50 for each successful enrolment. This is because the UIDAI for the second phase has decided to impose a penalty of R150 for every error in enrolment and R500 for violation of its guidelines.

That should cut back on the error rate and the amount of credentialed plant life.

Also, ratcheting up quality requirements while keeping compensation per enrollment stable will squeeze less efficient enrollment operations.

Fun facts: Cilantro vs. Coriander… What is Cilantro – What is Coriander

Good Help is Hard to Find

A lot of really good thinking about ID and biometrics comes out of South Africa. In the piece linked below, Marius Coetzee makes some points with which we wholeheartedly agree.

Smart IDs alone cannot tackle fraud

Marius Coetzee, MD of biometric identity control specialist Ideco, says smart identity cards will improve identification processes through the use of biometrics, but they cannot solve the identity fraud problem on their own.

“We’ve been in this game for the past 10 years. We have seen companies publish tenders for solutions and spend a lot of money on a pilot, only to see poor results. Biometrics is an extremely complex science – if you implement it correctly, working with the right partners, you will see results. If you don’t, you will simply waste money.”

ID management technology is a tool managers can use to make certain business processes more efficient, saving the organization money. No technology can manage a business all by itself.

And, of course, as with so many other things, a good partner can make all the difference. The problem is that the larger biometrics vendors don’t really want to be that partner for any normally-sized or price sensitive organization and other organizations that could really take advantage of better ID management systems have difficulty finding the partners they need because the expertise is in small companies. Biometrics hasn’t been Oracle’d, SAP’ed, Microsoftened or IBM’d, yet, and it’s going to be a while before that changes.

Until then, SecurLinx is here to help.