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Cisco's Chambers Backs A Groundbreaking Voice Security Startup

Pindrop Security's technology has a lot of potential for the enterprise, one solution provider tells CRN.

Cisco Systems Executive Chairman and former CEO John Chambers has placed a bet that voice is set to become a major new frontier in cybersecurity.

Chambers has personally invested an undisclosed amount into Atlanta-based Pindrop Security and is joining the company's board of directors, the company said.

[Related: Cisco's Chambers Says He 'Doubled Down' On The Market After Trump's Win]

While there are myriad use cases for Pindrop's technology, according to the company, a leading use is protecting against voice fraud. For instance, the technology can be used to ensure that someone calling into customer service is actually the person they claim to be, according to Pindrop.

Users also benefit because the technology can eliminate the need for customer service representatives to ask identity verification questions to callers, Pindrop said.

"Absolutely [voice] is an emerging space in the security market, where there hasn't historically been a lot of attention paid. Because it is difficult, frankly," said Douglas Grosfield, founder and CEO of Five Nines IT Solutions, a Kitchener, Ontario-based strategic service provider.

Grosfield said the technology for accurate voice recognition over a cell phone -- possibly on an unstable or subpar connection, or long distance -- would need to be highly sophisticated.

There are also "a lot of variables involved to be able to accurately measure things like cadence and accent and tone and all those kinds of things, to the degree necessary," he said. "It's no wonder there's been a gap for a while. If Pindrop has figured out a way to do that accurately enough or consistently enough, that has the potential to spin off into a lot of different areas."

Authentication in the enterprise space is one possible key area, Grosfield said.

"Some say 'the password is dead,' but it's very hard to eliminate that entirely. Nobody's been able to do that effectively yet," Grosfield said, since technologies around iris scanning, facial recognition and fingerprint reading each have major limitations.

"Voice recognition is certainly a logical progression," he said.

Other investors in Pindrop Security include two Alphabet investment funds -- GV and CapitalG -- as well as Andreessen Horowitz. Pindrop has collected at least $122 million in funding since its launch in 2011.

Finance, health care and insurance are among the initial target markets for Pindrop. The company has disclosed few customer names, but said in a news release that it's seen "broad customer adoption" including from "eight of the top 10 US banks alongside two of top five insurance carriers."

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