The security implications of speech to text systems

It’s more important than ever for users of speech to text systems to ensure that their voice files are secure and cannot be accessed by unauthorised persons, so how can this be best achieved?

The security implications of speech to text systems
The security implications of speech to text systems

All software applications are vulnerable, and speech processing applications are certainly no exception. The fact that speech to text solutions create digital files is a benefit in terms of ease of transmission and integration with other business systems, whilst monitoring and approving documents whilst on the move can also be a real boon. However, in terms of cybersecurity, these features can quickly become an Achilles’ heel.

Consider how the following examples of voice processed documents could pose threats or be harmful to a company’s reputation if they were accessed by online hackers:

  • Electronic health records containing a wealth of patient data
  • Sensitive customer documents held by professional bodies such as lawyers or accountants
  • Commercially sensitive documents (e.g. acquisitions, new product information, business strategies, pricing discussions) generated by a range of private businesses, both large and small

One of the primary reasons for these threats is that many such document are now produced and stored using cloud-based solutions that are becoming ever-more dominant (in fact new research indicates that almost 80% of the medical transcription software market in Europe is now cloud-based).

The reality is that businesses are generally ill-equipped to handle cyberattacks despite the fact the threat landscape has been well-documented, with more than four in five (82%) firms in the UK estimated to have fallen victim to a cyberattack in the last twelve months.

What can be done?

In the case of on-premise deployment, the threats are typically easier to manage and control, since users are able to keep digital documents secure within their own environments, providing of course they use appropriate data security features such as firewalls and anti-virus programs.

However, when it comes to the cloud, there may be Software as a Service (SaaS) providers and/or public cloud storage systems to consider. Whilst such systems offer a range of very significant benefits in terms of cost, accessibility, support etc., it’s important to understand the threats they can pose to the security of your digital files.

The measures you can take to thwart cybercriminals in their attempts to gain access to your sensitive digital files are, in fact, applicable to all cloud-based scenarios. These include:

  • First and foremost, opt for a cloud service that uses encryption to ensure that any private data can be transmitted securely without falling into the hands of criminals
  • Read the user agreement thoroughly to find out how the cloud service will protect your information, and never sign up for anything without a full understanding of what every clause in the agreement means
  • Ensure the cloud service utilises two-factor authentication, which may include answering a secret question, providing a personal PIN number or inputting a code that the cloud provider emails or texts to you

Above all, remember that your digital voice files can contain a wealth of information which a cybercriminal will be only too eager to exploit. So, ensuring the integrity of this information should always be uppermost in your mind – irrespective of the solution you utilise to generate the files in the first place.

Take a look at our speech to text