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The rise of biometrics: how they’re changing the face of security as we know it

Feb 20, 2018 Tech Trends

Decades ago, science fiction writers and filmmakers dreamed that biometrics would become an integral part of security: now that dream is becoming a reality.

Biometrics (a Greek phrase meaning “body measurements”) left the realm of science fiction years ago. Today, they represent an important aspect of physical security. However, this type of technology continues to evolve. Learn how Australian organisations are leveraging the latest developments in biometrics to keep the public safe and secure.

Australia’s facial recognition initiative to improve public safety

In October 2017, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull announced that Australia will use driver’s licence photos to compile a nationwide database that will utilise facial recognition software to identify people of interest. The ultimate goal of this initiative is that Australian law enforcement agencies will be able access driver’s licence pictures (as well as those from passports and visas) to prevent acts of terror before they take place.

Leaders from each of Australia’s states and territories agreed to participate. While Australian law enforcement agencies can access driver’s licence, visa, and passport photos from across the country, this initiative creates a single hub to automate the process.

The Federal Attorney General’s office is coordinating the creation of the database as well as the hub, which will act as a router to share images. Victoria’s roads and traffic authority—VicRoads—issued a statement that it aims to be one of the first of the states and
territories to provide access to its driver’s licence database. While this body doesn’t currently have a facial recognition solution in place, so it will utilise the same software that the Federal Government uses.

ANZ secures its services with voice biometrics

The broad applications of biometrics for security make them an excellent fit for the financial services industry. ANZ is a perfect example of how this technology can be implemented to keep banking customers and their money safe. Specifically, voice biometrics have been proven to effectively protect against financial fraud.

In April 2017, ANZ issued a statement that it would add a voice biometrics function to its mobile app, Grow. Customers transferring more than $1000 can authorise payments through voice authentication when using the platform. Although NAB has used voice biometrics at its contact centres for several years, ANZ claims it is the first Australian bank to utilise this technology to make mobile banking safer.

Why are voice biometrics such an effective form of security?

As Peter Dalton—ANZ’s managing director of customer experience and digital channels—noted, the human voice has five to ten times more security points than other forms of biometrics, such as fingerprints. To create a voiceprint, the customer records himself or herself speaking. When he or she uses Grow to transfer money, the customer’s voice is being compared with what’s on record. If there’s a match, the customer can complete the transaction; if not, the customer will be transferred to the fraud department. Moreover, ANZ’s voice recognition technology can tell the difference between a recording of a voice and someone speaking live as well as the subtle vocal differences between identical twins.

ANZ rolled out voice biometrics in September 2017 for Grow. According to a bank spokesperson, customers have enthusiastically embraced the voice recognition component of ANZ’s app. Due to the success of its voice biometrics initiative, ANZ announced plans to roll out similar voice technology throughout its call centres.

“What we think we have found with voice biometrics as an addition to authentication is something actually that gives high security and a significant degree of convenience,” says Nigel Dobson, ANZ’s general manager of wholesale digital.

Biometrics have been a fixture in the security landscape for years, and they continue to evolve so that they offer even greater levels of protection. The next generation of biometrics are easy to implement and safeguard Australians from a wide variety of threats.

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