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TalkTalk swaps passwords post-hack for Siri-style voice recognition

In a bid to better protect its customers details, TalkTalk has launched TalkSafe, a new voice recognition service that promises to do away with passwords altogether. 

Instead of relying on old-fashioned potentially hackable passwords, TalkSafe will instead analyse customers voices. The software, developed by Nuance Communications, the folks who worked on Apple’s Siri, will measure over a hundred unique vocal fingerprints including the shape of a customer’s vocal tract, larynx and nasal cavity, alongside pronunciation and emphasis. 

Unless somebody trying to access your TalkTalk Account is an excellent vocal mimic, capable of physically altering the shape of their throat and nose, chances are you’ll be fine. Unless you’re from Scotland, in which case it might not understand you anyway

TalkSafe marks the first time a UK ISP has added voice biometrics; previously we’ve seen the likes of Barclays and HSBC employ such measures, but not a company that sells Internet access, TV and phone calls. 

It’s perhaps not surprising that TalkTalk’s been quick to not only get this service up and running but also point out that it’s so far the only ISP to do so. Last year the company became the victim of a widely-publicised hack which saw thousands of customer’s personal details leaked. While no TalkTalk MyAccount passwords were stolen by hackers, credit card and bank details were and the company has since fought hard to restore its reputation. 

Hacking aside, TalkTalk has a track record in launching security features, being the first ISP to launch network-level filters – despite these more or less becoming an industry standard thanks to government nudge-policy – and a service designed to aggressively clamp down on irritating marketing calls

TalkTalk’s consumer managing director Tristia Harrison 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.”

Setting up TalkSafe requires customers to repeat a simple phrase three times to create a voiceprint, which will then be stored as the unique voice ID for that customer. 

TalkSafe is available to all of TalkTalk’s customers now; the next time you call, the set-up process will be automatically initiated. 


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