Magazine article CRM Magazine

Speech Self-Service System Security Breaches: Are You Protected?

Magazine article CRM Magazine

Speech Self-Service System Security Breaches: Are You Protected?

Article excerpt

Instances of online security breaches permeate the media these days, and with every security breach, public awareness and fear of the vulnerability of sensitive personal information reaches epidemic proportions. More than ever, the public is concerned about safety and privacy whenever they are asked to give their names, account numbers, social security numbers and other personal data.

For business, the topic of security for digital information is broad, with management of text-based data usually the focus of IT and security managers. But speech applications are used more and more, for everything from checking a flight schedule to completing a bank transaction. In many cases, personal information is collected and maintained in a text-based formation and also as an audio file if session recording is in place. As speech applications become increasingly more complex, they present attractive targets for hackers or unauthorized personnel bent on stealing.

Costs associated with a security breach of any kind can be devastating. Not only will engineering effort be required to repair or rebuild records and systems, but the economic impact of fraudulent activities and loss of trust by customers can also create ongoing difficulties. Consider the costs of lost business due to compromised information, lost productivity, labor and legal expenses, public relations costs, higher insurance premiums, defense against lawsuits and security upgrades to prevent future attacks--then add to that intangible costs such as loss of trust, negative publicity and competitor access to confidential information--and the costs associated with security breaches are colossal.

Despite this frightening scenario, many organizations utilizing speech-enabled customer care systems frequently ignore security, typically failing to act because they are not aware of the security issues that are specific to speech. In fact, many of the requirements necessary to implement and maintain a secure speech installation will be new ground for an IT organization.

But all organizations should be aware of a new set of parameters within the context of speech security. With speech, audio as well as text-based information could be vulnerable. Speech architectures based on VoiceXML and deployed as distributed systems within web infrastructures create additional points of access where a security breach could occur. The pain of unauthorized access and loss of personal information or sensitive corporate data is no less if it occurs within a system supporting speech applications than if it happened in a text only system. …

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