Intruder Challenge a Pitch Perfect Competition

Original: May 10, 2011

By: Tim K. Stewart

Staff Writer


On May 5 the Montgomery College Signal Processing Research Center (a.k.a. Speech Lab), in collaboration with the MC Engineering Club, opened their doors to the public for the Intruder Challenge. Since the beginning of the spring semester, seven members of the Speech Club have worked on designing and implementing simple speaker verification systems that would recognize intruders and deny them access to the center’s network. Under the guidance of Dr. Uche Abanulo, an MC professor, they have been meeting every other week throughout the semester.

“The students have worked very hard this semester on creating their systems for this challenge, and we are happy to present them to you,” introduced Abanulo.

The three student competitors were Hong Nguyen, a Mechanical Engineering student, Ashwin Shrestha, an Electrical Engineering student, and Obidon Bassinan, also an Electrical Engineering student.

“We started working at the beginning of the semester and learned what was required to create the systems, and the last couple of weeks we made the systems themselves,” explained Shrestha.

The challenge allowed the students to present their systems and how they work. The winner of the challenge must be able to access their own systems while denying access to 75 percent of possible intruders.

The challenge began with five members of the audience attempting to access the center’s network through each one of the voice verification systems by saying the correct password provided to them. The goal of the system is to deny access to all other voices except the creator of the systems voice.

The winner of the challenge was Obidon Bassinan, winning a $60 prize by denying 4 in 5 intruder’s access to the network, while her voice successfully granted her access.

“I was very surprised, because when we all first came in earlier everybody was able to get into their systems,” said Bassinan.

The runner-up was Hong Nguyen, who denied 4 in 5 intruders access, but was unable to access the network using her own voice.

Eager to improve her system, Nguyen said, “I plan on continuing work on my system; our systems still have some problems as you can see.” She further commented, “I want to learn more from Dr. Abanulo.”

The second runner-up was Ashwin Shrestha, who was praised by Dr. Abanulo as one of the hardest working students in the club. Shrestha’s system denied 5 in 5 intruders access, but was unable to access the network using his own voice.

The systems were created to allow anything password accessible access through speech verification systems. The students created their systems using pitches to differentiate intruder’s voices from their own using certain calculations and speech classification algorithms they learned during the semester. According to Dr. Abanulo, “a male’s pitch is usually between 50Hz and 150Hz, and 140Hz to 400Hz for females.”

Next semester Dr. Abanulo and the speech club plan on creating more speech verification systems utilizing more than just pitch to help keep intruders from breaching network security.