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HSBC Voice Recognition ID System Tricked By Twins

As News Editor of Silicon UK, Roland keeps a keen eye on the daily tech news coverage for the site, while also focusing on stories around cyber security, public sector IT, innovation, AI, and gadgets.

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Biometric security may not be a secure as its made out to be

HSBC’s voice recognition security system can be fooled by twins, according to testing by the BBC

Dan Simmons, a reporter for BBC Click, reportedly set up an HSBC account and signed up to the banks voice ID authentication service, a system used to access a customer’s account securely over the telephone instead of needing a password. 

HSBC claims is secure due to each person having a unique voice, measured through 100 different characteristics. 

However, Simmons found that his account could be accessed by his twin brother Joe when his sibling mimicked his voice. 

One true voice 

Voice IDThe BBC reported that while Simmons’ twin was not able to withdraw any money over the phone, Joe could check the balance and recent transactions of his brother’s account and had the option to transfer money between accounts. 

“What’s really alarming is that the bank allowed me seven attempts to mimic my brother’s voiceprint and get it wrong, before I got in at the eighth time of trying,” Joe said.

HSBC was informed of the potential hole in its voice identification system and told the BBC that it would “review” ways to make the voice ID system more sensitive so that it could not be tricked by inquisitive twins. 

“Twins do have a similar voiceprint, but the introduction of this technology has seen a significant reduction in fraud, and has proven to be more secure than PINs, passwords and memorable phrases,” a spokesman from HSBC told the broadcaster. 

However, there appear to be a few flaws in HSBC’s system, with a Click researcher having found that it allowed them to still attempt to access their HSBC account after deliberately failing the voice ID check on 20 separate occasions over a 12 minute period. 

The situation highlights that while biometric security may indeed offer a more convenient and safer way of accessing various accounts when compared to passwords and PIN numbers, the technology is not yet sufficiently advanced enough to be 100 percent robust, something Apple found out with its Touch ID fingerprint scanner

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