COVID-19 caught the world by surprise, leaving little time to prepare for the sudden digital transformation many companies and organizations were forced to undergo. In addition to changing their business processes and rapidly shifting their in-person workforces to remote work settings, video conferencing tools became the primary channel for meetings and physical stores launched e-commerce strategies, accelerating the widespread adoption of digital payments. 

The abruptness of these changes exposed the cracks in the systems, leaving room for cybercriminals to gain access to sensitive information like intellectual property, customer data, and confidential records. These security breaches can give way to online fraud, security threats, and identity theft which have significantly grown during the COVID-19 crisis and have revealed a different type of pandemic — a cyber one. 

According to the World Economic Forum’s Global Risks Report 2021, cyber risks continue to rank among the highest likelihood risks of the next ten years. Companies and organizations have had to play catch-up to secure and fix any blind spots in their systems that were allowing external and internal cyber threats to come through. Some of the most overwhelmed sectors during the pandemic, such as health, financial institutions, and the retail industry have become the focal point for more cyberattacks than usual.

Voice biometrics and cybersecurity

With the lockdowns and social distancing measures in place, many people have turned to online shopping as opposed to getting access to goods and services in physical stores. In Latin America’s largely cash-based economy, paying with credit and debit cards or scanning a QR code became more practical and hygienic amid the global pandemic. While this change in consumer behavior is here to stay, it also means that both businesses and consumers are more exposed to cyberattacks, to the extent that it is not a matter of if they will get hit, but when.

One of the ways in which a business can prevent or minimize the risk of these attacks happening is by rethinking the way in which they prove their employees’ and customers’ identities. Traditionally, the standard practice has been to rely on passwords. Yet, this is not always the safest option since users tend to reuse the same password for multiple accounts or use passwords that do not meet the basic complexity requirements. 

[…] both businesses and consumers are more exposed to cyberattacks, to the extent that it is not a matter of if they will get hit, but when.

The reality is that we are headed towards a future where passwordless authentication will become the norm. The business case for going passwordless is undeniable, as it improves the user experience and decreases the costs associated with password management and data breaches.

In line with this tendency, biometrics have proved to be secure authentication methods for digital payments. This type of authentication refers to technologies that use physical and/or behavioral characteristics unique to an individual to prove their identities, such as fingerprints, facial features, and voice. 

The reality is that we are headed towards a future where passwordless authentication will become the norm.

In particular, companies are increasingly adopting voice biometrics to add an extra layer of security when verifying a customer’s identity. It eliminates the need for security questions that force a person to disclose personal information like the name of the street they lived on as a child or their mother’s maiden name.

There is no need for additional hardware beyond a user’s mobile device, and the seamlessness of the authentication process helps businesses speed up their services, save money, and gain accuracy and effectiveness in detecting and tracking identity fraud. 

Combined with a secure conversational AI assistant to guide customers through their journey, voice biometrics can also create a better online consumer experience.

Preparing for the future

Businesses that continuously adapt and improve their cybersecurity infrastructure are more likely to be successful in today’s fast-paced digital world. Voice authentication is just one of the many ways in which voice technologies will transform how we interact with the world. In order to take advantage of all the benefits that come with digitalization, businesses and organizations need to prepare and take the necessary steps to create a secure space for customers to transact and employees to operate.

This represents a great opportunity for the future of voice technologies in latam.

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