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Theft of Sensitive Information on the Rise, so Is the Response by ICT Groups

19 June 2018

Corporate South Africa got a rude awakening in the past few days when a hacker syndicate, it is presumed, obtained information from a JSE-listed insurance group. According to media reports, the syndicate is demanding a ransom fee to prevent them from making the information publicly available.

Andre Schoeman, the Executive for Lines of Business at JSE-listed ICT group Jasco, says the problem might be worse than we imagine.

 “The customer information siphoned from this insurance group could contain personal information that can potentially be used to target the same customers’ accounts at other financial institutions – for improper financial gain,” says Schoeman.

But that depends entirely on the security protocols implemented by the other financial institution, says Schoeman.

“Institutions that have deployed advanced Voice Biometric systems at their contact centres have an added layer of protection even when such personal customer information suddenly finds itself in the open market for the highest bidder,” says Schoeman.

Voice Biometrics is a relatively new technology in South Africa and indeed around the world, however, Schoeman says its use has been gaining in popularity over the past couple of years. “Market adoption of this technology has gained serious momentum, particularly in South Africa, in the past year or so,” adds Schoeman.

 To use an analogy, Voice Biometrics is essentially the fingerprint of a person’s voice that, much like his or her fingerprint, is unique to that person. Businesses, such as banks and insurance companies, that hold sensitive information belonging millions of people, can reduce their risks significantly by leveraging the power of Voice Biometrics.

Andre predicts that Voice Biometrics will become the standard in both client authentication and data protection in the not too distant future. “The industry has basically raised the ante on hackers. We are busy writing a new chapter in personal information protection,” concludes Schoeman.