Impersonators can fool voice recognition systems: study

Researchers at the University of Eastern Finland poke holes in growing speech recognition applications

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Impersonators can fool voice recognition systems: study Voice recognition systems systems aren’t efficient yet in recognising voice modifications, a vulnerability that poses significant security concerns.
By  David Ndichu Published  November 14, 2017

Skilful impersonators are able to fool high tech voice recognition systems, new research from the University of Eastern Finland has found.

These systems generally aren’t efficient yet in recognising voice modifications, a vulnerability that poses significant security concerns, the researchers warn.

The researchers did not indicate which products they tested, although many mobile brands are increasingly equipped with applications that function with voice commands, such as Apple’s Siri or Microsoft’s Cortana.

The widespread use of electronic services has increased the demand of applications that use voice to recognise the speaker either for authentication purposes or for public safety. However, with the popularity of voice applications, their misuse may also increase.

Voice attacks against speaker recognition can be done using technical means, such as voice conversion, speech synthesis and replay attacks. The scientific community is systematically developing techniques and countermeasures against technically generated attacks. However, voice modifications produced by a human, such as impersonation and voice disguise, cannot be easily detected with the developed countermeasures, the research says.

Voice impersonation is common in the entertainment industry where professionals and amateurs are able to copy voice characteristics and speech behaviour of other speakers, usually public figures.

The study analysed speech from two professional impersonators who mimicked eight Finnish public figures. The study found that impersonators were able to fool automatic systems and listeners in mimicking some speakers.

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