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Using the LCARS system of TNG, users still need to input their command authorization code in some instances (eg "Picard-Epsilon-7-9-3"). If the computer can identify a person's ID based on their voice, however, why would this be necessary? (I know in the episode Brothers that Data is able to hijack the computer, but this is beside the point - I mean, there's only one of Data).

For more info, see here: http://en.memory-alpha.org/wiki/Command_authorization_code

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50 years ago... Programmer: "We have that legacy code requiring command authorization code. I'm porting the system to voice recognition, what should I do with it?" Project manager: "Leave it as is, removal isn't in the specifications". –  DVK Mar 18 at 4:28
    
Except that as we see in Tribunal the voice recognition systems are terribly good either. –  Xantec Mar 22 at 18:47

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up vote 19 down vote accepted

There may be many reasons for the use of these codes, some conjecture includes:

  • Even for a positive voice recognition, the person has to say a reasonable amount of verbage, the code will provide some verbal material for identification to work on.

  • Even today, two (or more) factor authentication is used for sensitive systems. A voice can be recorded, having a verbal code provides a second layer of authentication for an action.

  • Allied to the last point, the user may have different codes for different actions. It may even allow the system to detect whether the user is under duress when issuing a command, perhaps sending an alert.

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I hadn't thought of all that - good points made –  N.Soong Mar 17 at 23:11
    
In case of shape-shifers, too, because they can mimic a person but won't necessarily know the code. (An "out-there" example, sure, but this is Star Trek we're talking about.) –  Meat Trademark Mar 17 at 23:49
    
@MeatTrademark No, not "out there" at all –  Izkata Mar 18 at 0:18
    
Hmmm, Data impersonated the crew and took over the Enterprise in "Brothers" (Season 4 Episode 03) he was able to fool the voice recognition system and seemed to have had access to the crew's User IDs. –  Hikaru Ichijyo Mar 18 at 3:08
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@HikaruIchijyo: If you have to say your authorization code out loud then it can never be secure against the other crew. I suppose the assumption is that Starfleet officers can be trusted not to abuse each other's codes (or that if they attempt to, they will be caught by other security measures). –  Royal Canadian Bandit Mar 18 at 10:05

This is a basic authentication issue. The multi-factor authentication depends on using knowledge from different realms: something you are, something you have, and something you know. Voice identification is "something you are"; user ID is "something you know". To make it even more secure three-factor authentication they would have, for instance, swipe a pass-card.

Something you are may be faked: a voice recording or a voice imitator in this case. Something you know can be tricked or forced from you. Something you have can be stolen. All three (or even two out of three) make this rather less likely, thus more secure.

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