BBC reporter detects vulnerability of HSBC voice recognition imitating voice of his twin brother

19 May 2017

HSBCA reporter from BBC and his full brother managed to ‘break’ the voice authorization function introduced last year by HSBC to enable its customers to access their accounts through mobile banking application eliminating the need to enter passwords. Joe Simmons successfully imitated the voice of Dan, his twin brother, to get access to the bank account through the smartphone application, questioning the security level of the HSBC biometric authentication.

The bank last year launched the biometric authorization through voice recognition in a move to make logging into the account faster and simpler enhancing customer experience and convenience while ensuring high security. HSBC is using voice ID service that may verify the voice of a customers in a matter of instances, analyzing more than 100 individual peculiarities of the sounded speech, both physical and behavioral.

After the report was published by BBC, the bank responded back promising to reinforce the security of the voice recognition software, underlining significance of safety of their customers to HSBC. The bank further emphasized that despite vocal genetics, the system ensures high security of account access, and while twins may have similar speech patterns, over this year since the system introduction it has proven to feature more safety as compared to PINs, passwords or special phrases.

Moreover, HSBC noted that this type of authentication allows users to only check their balances and move funds to previously approved accounts, not accounts of third parties.

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