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TalkTalk Becomes First UK ISP to Offer Biometric Voice Passwords

Friday, March 18th, 2016 (8:17 am) - Score 497
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Budget ISP TalkTalk are continuing to work on their image after last year’s security woes (e.g. here and here) and have today taken another step forward by allowing all 4 million of their customers to use their own voice as their password (aka – ‘TalkSafe‘).

The new TalkSafe service (provided by ‘Nuance Communications‘) claims to use the “same advanced voice biometric technology” as found in some major banks, which identifies customers by “analysing over a hundred unique characteristics of their voice including the shape of larynx, vocal tract and nasal passage, alongside pronunciation, emphasis and speed of their speech“.

Customers of the ISP will thus be able to access their accounts over the telephone by using their voice as their password, instead of providing personal details to prove their identity.

How TalkSafe works

When customers next call TalkTalk, they will complete the current verification process. At the end of the conversation they will be given the option to set up TalkSafe by repeating a simple phrase three times, to create a voiceprint. Once the voiceprint is created, each and every time thereafter, the process is as follows:

* Call TalkTalk
* Say agreed phrase: “With TalkSafe, my voice is my password”
* Voice biometric technology analyses the voice and verifies the caller’s identity, enabling the customer service team to assist the customer immediately

No doubt one fringe benefit of this will be that calls should be shorter and TalkTalk’s customer support staff can thus focus more time on other issues, although on the flip side such efficiency improvements can sometimes result in a reduction of staff (there’s no word on that in the press release).

Tristia Harrison, TalkTalk’s Consumer Managing Rirector, said:

“We’ve listened to what our customers have told us about wanting a simple, secure service. TalkSafe is an important and exciting step on that journey. As the first UK telecoms provider to roll out voice biometrics as standard, we’re proud to be leading the way in making this advanced technology accessible to millions of homes across the country at no extra cost.”

Mind you we’ve had mixed experiences with the quality of similar biometric voice authentication systems, which don’t always work so well when you exist in a noisy environment, have a poor quality phone connection or are suffering from a sore throat. In those situations we understand that TalkTalk will still provide for a more traditional means of authentication.

Separately TalkTalk also mentioned that they’ve recently completed a capacity upgrade of their national broadband network and have also simplified their engineer tracking service, which can now provide a more specific estimated time of arrival.

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