Mitigate Security Risks of Face, Voice, and Speech Recognition

Facial and voice identification are being utilized in almost every industry including healthcare, fintech, and education, to name a few. Facial recognition is an AI-based technology that can identify and verify people’s identities by analyzing their facial contours. Biometric authentication technology is another amazing technology that uses voice recognition software to identify a person by his or her unique vocal attributes.

Applications powered by artificial intelligence is a trendy and promising field. The global revenue of biometrics was a mind-blowing $14.3 billion in 2018, according to Statista. But just like any other technology, biometric verification can boost profits or carry threats. Driven by trends to streamline business activities, or link all devices at home in a single network, a lot of business owners and individuals deploy voice and face recognition solutions without concerns over security measures.

Despite ongoing improvements, biometrics are not immune to hacker attacks and data breaches. Companies integrating biometrics software solutions in their business ecosystem need to consider potential threats. It’s important when considering these upgrades to reach out to an expert to ensure fraudsters won’t find loopholes and breach your network.

In this article, we’d like to share our experience with you. We believe it’s crucial to be aware of biometric software risks, and understand how to reduce or avoid them.

Vital Security Risks Related to Face and Voice Recognition Apps

As we mentioned, face and voice recognition software can be invasive on your privacy, despite the security benefits it may bring. For example, San Francisco voted to ban facial recognition in May 2019 because the technology was utilized as a law enforcement tool too often and there were concerns about potential misuse by the government in the future. It was the first official ban on the usage of facial recognition software.

To understand the nature of these concerns, have a look at the list of the most critical threats of biometric verification software:

Privacy Breach

Since governments can track down criminals, they can track you down as well. Facial recognition data can be easily gathered – the only thing the software requires is a clear image of your face. The catch doesn’t need your permission, so you wouldn’t even know that someone has spied on you. There's a lot of work to be done before biometric identification can operate in full accordance with the human right of privacy.

Data Leaks

Face recognition data includes numerous images and videos usually stored via the cloud which is potentially vulnerable to hackers. Even though experts do their best to upgrade security systems to prevent any data breaches, it still might happen. In such a case, hackers can get your data and misuse it including blackmail and financial fraud.

Marketing Loophole

Companies could potentially use biometric data to find customers’ vulnerabilities by monitoring their emotions such as joy or distress. By doing this, a company can recommend its products to you at the right time and place without your consent.

Recognition Issues

Face recognition is accurate, but the accuracy depends on two factors: the angle of the camera and appearance. If you change your hairstyle, or the camera angle isn't quite right, the software might not recognize you.

Lack of Accuracy

Voice recognition software is not as accurate as other biometric recognition systems. Moreover, background sounds and voices can affect the quality of a voice sample, hence complicating the identification process.

Uncontrollable Restrictions

Software developers might face significant issues if their solution is based on a third-party biometric platform. For example, the Alexa data breach in 2018 ended up with the introduction of restrictions on long audio recordings, thus forcing companies to opt for relevant workarounds when building software using Alexa technology.

With this in mind, we have to work hard to develop secure biometric verification software that operates in compliance with the human right of privacy.

We’ve already witnessed a few recent data breaches worth mentioning, but we can learn from these experiences to avoid the same issues in the future:

Alexa Breach

The AsusWRT leak affected users all over the world. The AsusWRT router was connected to Amazon Alexa devices that stored logs of users’ actions. By acquiring this sensitive data, hackers could get in-depth info from any smart-based device connected to a home network. Due to this, Amazon had to reconsider some vital aspects of its Alexa services.

Ring Data Leak

In December 2019, more than 3.000 Ring users experienced a data leak, exposing valuable info including emails and passwords. Hackers were able to gain access to a telephone number, home address, and payment info. Furthermore, hackers could also acquire video histories from connected cameras.

Helpful Hints on How to Mitigate Biometric Authentication Software Risks

When used carefully and wisely, facial and voice recognition can be a helpful tool. However, given the issues noted above, it’s better to protect yourself from any potential risks. So here’s a list of things to keep in mind if you want to take advantage of these technologies and/or protect your privacy:

  • Hackers may attempt to fool biometric verification software with digital videos and photos, so it’s crucial to provide up-to-date liveness detection. A passive liveness detection algorithm looks for signs of non-live images, such as borders and cutouts, to identify a fake image. An active liveness detection algorithm can ask a person to blink or shake his head to make sure he or she is real.
  • To optimize and boost security measures, use both facial and voice recognition features at the same time. Use a two-step verification method to reduce data breach risks significantly.
  • Define the boundaries of your projects, develop a robust privacy policy, and manage communications with your customers and partners to stay on top of things.
  • Once you decide to integrate a biometric identification solution with your business infrastructure, consider hiring an expert to avoid risks related to security protocols.

Overcoming technical restrictions when building a healthcare speech-recognition app

Developing and adopting any technology always comes with challenges and issues, and biometrics are no exception. Moreso, it’s a higher risk when you are creating a solution based on other platforms’ functionality and rely fully on their understanding of privacy, system architecture and potential exposure to breaches. It’s especially difficult for startups with budgetary limitations.

Our team at Archer Software has dealt with exactly these issues while developing biometric healthcare software that was powered by Amazon Alexa’s features for one of our clients. The solution mas meant to be used as a speech-recognition app with a secure storage system that records data received during the surgical operation process and allows to go over the details of the surgery later for educational purposes.

The solution was aimed at eliminating the need for a dedicated worker to document each surgery, which was an inefficient approach. With the solution we've been building, the authorized medical staff participating in the surgery was able to dictate the details of the surgery directly to the speech-recognition app.

After the Alexa data breach in 2018, a security update restricted long audio records, which meant the surgeons could no longer record one surgery description as one large file. So we had to find a workaround to make our product fully-functioning and ready for deployment.

It was a challenging task, but we have developed a solution that splits an audio record into small chunks, which are then gathered back together and analyzed to exclude contextual errors so that the ultimate audio file is not corrupted. We have built an interface for storing and recording audio recordings using the following tools and technologies: .Net, ReactJS, and AWS DS.

Key Advantages of the Voice and Facial Recognition System

Mostly used for security purposes, biometrics is gaining traction in other areas of use, including face recognition online services, like face++. According to research, the global facial recognition market alone will generate $7 billion in revenue by 2024.

Let’s take a look at the benefits this technology can offer besides unlocking your smartphone:

Enhanced Security and Surveillance

When it comes to tracking down criminals like thieves or terrorists, facial recognition software is invaluable for law enforcement agencies. It’s also quite useful during search operations for missing people.

Improved Security and Processing

With numerous cyber-attacks and data breaches, facial recognition can offer a compelling solution to companies looking to strengthen their security system. Instant verification of a person using smart-based algorithms makes the system almost impossible to fool and can replace insecure passwords.

Simplified Integration and Decent Compatibility

Thanks to excellent compatibility with the most security software solutions, facial recognition technology is a wise choice for companies to implement into their IT infrastructure as there are no IDs or passwords to be stolen.

Great Accuracy

Based on AI-related power, deep learning features, and the use of infrared cameras, face recognition technology is highly accurate. It’s especially vital at airport security checkpoints.

Voice recognition software is not as accurate as facial recognition software yet, but it is moving in the right direction. One of the most promising solutions is dragon voice recognition software, which you can use any place at any time. The more you use the technology, the smarter it gets thanks to AI-based core and deep learning features.

There’s also speech recognition software, which is not the same as voice recognition solutions. In essence, it’s used only in speech-to-text apps and virtual assistants, so it can’t identify a speaker based on his unique vocal characteristics. When building speech recognition technology, Python programming language is often utilized by experts.

With that said, let’s move on to the primary advantages of voice recognition software you should know about:

  • Accessibility: Thanks to widely-used smartphones, people with physical disabilities find this technology beneficial since they don’t have to use their hands to type the text.
  • Convenience and Speed: The technology is familiar to most people and is capable of capturing your speech at a faster rate than you might normally type.
  • Cost-effective Integration: You can easily integrate voice recognition software with vehicles and household appliances for remote control.
  • Hygienic: Given the contactless approach, voice recognition is a non-invasive method, which leads to a better hygienic environment.
  • Self-learning: The more you use the software, the smarter it gets. The technology recognizes a person’s unique speech patterns.