Horizon 2020, OCTAVE: the winning project reveals its strong points

EarcyberIt won the topic Access Control of the call Horizon 2020-DS-2014-1, expiring in August 2014, referring to the security of control systems of the access to online services and critical infrastructure (including that for energy) and it received European financing of  4.4 million euro. It is called OCTAVE, a two-year project that started in June 2015. It is coordinated by the Ugo Bordoni Foundation and implemented by twelve partners from seven countries of the European Union. They include Italian SEA Aeroporti di MilanoFindomestic Banca of the BNP Paribas group and Advalia srl of the Call&Call group. We find out the winning elements of the project along with Sebastiano Trigila, Eng., Project Manager of OCTAVE, Ugo Bordoni Foundation.

What the idea of the project derive from?

OCTAVE derives from the idea to overcome the authentication systems of the users of ICT services that apply passwords, and their use is complex and it entails a risk of forgetting, loss or theft. Imposing difficult passwords that need to be changed frequently confuses the user and it negatively affects the costs of management of services. Smart cards and OTP keys partly resolve the problem, as – especially in unmonitored areas – there is always the possibility of their use by others than their legal owner. In turn the authentication systems based on biometric data have the advantage of being unequivocally associated to one person. They are also comfortable for the users who do not need to remember codes or carry cards or keys with them. A biometric authentication method is the check of the user through his or her voice: actually, the name OCTAVE stands for Objective Control for TAlker VErification and it indicates the objective control for the check of the speaker. It suggests that we have to do with audio signals (but not with music).

What in your opinion were the strong points of the application of OCTAVE?

OCTAVE replied to the call H2020-DS-2014-1 (expiring in August 2014) on the topic  ‘Access Control’ which focused on the security of control systems of the access to online services and critical infrastructure. The project with its 13.5/15 points qualified to the final of four best candidates, out of 36 proposals which responded to the call. A strong point was proposing innovative solutions for the speech recognition technology in order to improve its resilience against the attempts of voice counterfeiting by impostors and the practical possibility of application under normal conditions of environmental noise. Another strong point consisted in creating of the user recognition platform on a cloud that would be adaptable to any service provider who would not deal with the complexity of authentication procedures and thus who would ask an independent and reliable third party who would do its core business thereof. 

There are a great deal of possible system applications. Could you please enumerate them?

All operational areas which require a highly reliable user recognition, before ensuring access to services and sensitive data, are potentially concerned. Home-banking services, public administration online services, high-level automation call-center services and access procedures to critical areas are typical candidates. So much so, OCTAVE will test and assess it solutions in terms of performance and reliability, with a special call-center service of Findomestic Banca and the access procedures to a reserved area at the airport of Milan Linate.

How did the partners communicate and cooperate?

The criterion of team composition privileged, more than complementarity among public and private entities, cooperation among scientific centers, industry representatives and providers of specific operational services. The proposals of innovation suggested through research are applied by the providers of speech recognition technologies to innovate currently available services in order to increase the extent of reliability and extent their scope of application. Market operators, such as an airport services company or a bank, consider such services with a view of innovating their processes, rendering them more efficient and faster to use.

What are the next project development stages?

In February 2016 OCTAVE had been functioning for nine months, completing the phase of designing the procedures and innovative technological elements. The next steps will include: (a) gradual implementation of procedures and innovative elements in a system into a system called TBAS (Trusted Biometric Authentication System); (b) conducting a test and assessment campaign of TBAS involving users of Findomestic and Aeroporti di Milano; (c) presentation of a final version of the system which would resemble a commercial pre-usability; (d) a plan of assessment and application of the project results to the benefit of all Partners, of which all will refer to the results actually put into the project or obtained in the course of its implementation. 

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