TalkTalk replaces passwords with voice recognition

TalkTalk isn't the one to sit with its head in its hands after a hack that left the company short for 100,000 subscribers.

Instead, it has introduced a password replacement in the form of voice recognition software, it said in a press release published Thursday morning.

According to the release, users will no longer be asked private questions such as “What is your first pet’s name” or “What is your mother’s maiden name?”

Now, users can call the company’s customer support line and will be able to confirm their identity using biometric technology through a feature called TalkSafe. First they will need to set up their blueprint, by repeating a phrase three times. The software will detect certain features of the person, including their larynx shape and the shape of their nasal passage.

Here's how the process works, explained by the company:

  • Call TalkTalk
  • Say agreed phrase: “With TalkSafe, my voice is my password”
  • Voice biometric technology analyses the voice and verifies the caller’s identity, enabling the customer service team to assist the customer immediately

Tristia Harrison, TalkTalk’s consumer managing director, 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.”

This might very well be a response to a cyber-breach that happened five months ago, when the details of 157,000 TalkTalk customers were stolen, including bank account and credit card info.

The Telegraph says that, after the breach, the telecommunications company lost 100,000 subscribers, with estimates going that it had lost £60 million.

TalkTalk is not the first company to employ voice recognition in this form, but it is the first, outside of the banking sector, to do so.

“The launch forms part of TalkTalk’s continual focus on improving customers’ experience and its long term strategy to ensure customer data is as secure as possible,” the company said. “Over time, voice biometrics will reduce the amount of sensitive personal information customers will have to disclose, as when a customer calls, the advisor will only see if the customer is verified or not.”

Edited to add a quote by Tristia Harrison, as well as the steps needed to activate the feature.