Security Concerns with Voice Interface

April 16, 2018, MOQdigital Marketing

Future Workplace

VI Security Blog

Voice User Interfaces (VUI) are evolving to offer businesses new and innovative means of connection and collaboration. However, this new technology has brought with it new security concerns, as well as making people wary of how and what they are connecting to.

Voice Technology is everywhere in today’s world. It has become standard in mobile devices with Siri and Cortana coming pre-installed and ready to use for personal and business devices. Meanwhile, Alexa is helping control homes, and similar systems are appearing in offices and on desks across the globe.  While many people are used to typing and engaging on screen, VUI’s have introduced a new, far more personal, means to engage with content. Yet, for many, this can raise concerns about personal security and have people asking “Who is listening?”.

To answer this question, we should examine what the risks actually are when it comes to Voice Interface. The reality is far more realistic, and less science fiction, than many, may expect. Voice increases the risk level for technology users because of the complexity it introduces to systems. This opens more avenues for cyber threats, which is a significant risk component. This risk is only increased by cloud connections and the fact that VUI’s often need the Internet of Things to operate effectively. The result is that they face many of the same risks associated with other data collecting devices, and often come without adequate security settings enabled or enforced. There is also a concern relating to how voice can be used as a password, which can be recorded and manipulated to hack into devices in new, seemingly easier, ways. When microphones are introduced, prying ears also become an issue. This sheds light on the primary concern most people have with VIU’s – privacy.

One of the biggest issues VUI users must be aware of is data collection. Voice collection is no different to any other type of personal identification, especially that which is related to the Internet of Things. We are simply producing and engaging with this data in a new format. The Voice systems are only ‘listening’ in as much as other devices are ‘watching’. Ideally, companies who are looking to use Voice Interface will apply encryption methods across all of their data related devices to reduce their risk of encountering cyber threats and increasing their ability to respond to and recover from them. Multifactor authentication can also assist in reducing risk, ensuring that voice access is not the sole method of accessing devices. If data requires higher levels of security, companies should always be engaging with multiple security procedures. For Voice, this may include a verbal login, as well as facial recognition, a pin code, or a traditional password login.

Another concern for Voice Interface is not just what it is listening to, but whom it is listening with. This can be a big issue for companies dealing with sensitive data and measures need to be put in place to handle the ‘audio data’ with the same care that other sensitive data is taken care of.

It is also crucial that companies issue guiding policies for any employee engaging with Voice Interfaces, as well as ensure that they are transparent about what they might use their Voice data for, where it is stored, and how long it might be kept. This allows users to opt-out of any features they are not comfortable with and helps maintain corporate governance strategies. This also relates to possible compliance regulations associated with VUIs, such as the new GDPR legislation that comes into effect in May 2018.

Voice Interface will only become more popular as the technology associated with it advances. Already, extensions, actions, and skills are being added to these systems, and they are becoming easier to integrate and communicate with. While some users will remain sceptical about the safety of Voice User Interface security, there are always steps that can be taken to protect data and reduce the risk of facing a cyber threat. If you are interested in how Voice Interfaces can contribute to your company, or how you can improve your Cyber Security strategies, get in touch with a MOQdigital consultant today. As leaders in Innovation, we can help you develop solutions that bring your business to its best. Contact us now.