Voice sounds good for two-factor authentication

Asia's high mobile penetration will encourage more financial institutions to implement voice authentication, says Unisys.

More sophisticated voice recognition systems and Asia's high mobile penetration can give rise to the use of voice-based authentication, says a Unisys executive.

Andrew Barkla, president for Asia-Pacific at Unisys, told ZDNet Asia that the company is seeing "a greater move toward biometric authentication".

Barkla was citing findings from a recent survey conducted by Unisys which focused on security, and polled users in Australia and other Asia-Pacific countries including Malaysia and Singapore. Only respondents in Australia were asked to identify a security authentication mechanism they felt most comfortable to provide.

"The one [identifier] that seems to be leading is voice, in particular [for use] in financial services," he noted. "It's an authentication method with an extremely high level of validity and is extremely difficult--if not impossible--to be tampered with in a two-factor environment."

He added that most people have a mobile phone, particularly in Asia, which makes it very convenient for users to manage this form of authentication.

For example, to enhance security, an Australian bank currently requires its customers to answer various questions--picked randomly--over the phone. The system then attempts to verify the audio inputs and authenticate the customer's identity.

The voice-print verification technology has also improved over the last several years, Barkla said. Current voice recognition systems are sensitive and intelligent enough to sense if someone has a cold or if they are emotionally upset.

"The systems now are pretty sophisticated," he said. "I think if you go back a couple of years ago, yes, they were difficult to implement…but the systems we have today are multi-faceted."