Is Identity Dead – The answer is Authentication

Today 2019-12-12 I found my way to the following article and associated podcast.

https://diginomica.com/fall-event-highlight-steve-wilson-says-digital-identity-dead-so-where-do-we-go-here 

https://www.constellationr.com/blog-news/identity-dead

Below is a flow of thought as I read and listened. to Jon Reed and linkedin.com/in/lockstep Stephen Wilson discuss this most interesting topic.

Surveillance Capitalism – So many are taking advantage of our data!

We need to evolve through the pony express stage of data management, and get to a point where there are responsible data intermediaries who are being held to account.

Identity management, for me, is about proving things about myself. I want to log onto a bank and prove that I have a particular bank account. Sometimes I want to log on and prove that I am the controller of a multi-party bank account with my wife. And sometimes I want to log onto a health service and prove my health identity. So this is all about proving things about me in different contexts.

In the podcast, they beg the question “Why is the Digital Identity problem still any issue”?  This leads one to think about the scale and expectation so many have surrounding this idea of “DIgital Identity”!

They then go on to ask the question What is two-factor authentication and remind us that our phone is a two-factor device, exactly what the standards FIDO Alliance worked to develop.  They remind us of the reality that people look after their phones.  We know when our phone is not with us.

Why not simply bind my identity to my phone.

Mr. Wilson sees the phone as the second factor.  I would suggest our devices, bond to our identity, is the primary factor.

Mr. Wilson reminds us that Identity is all about Verifying Claims. We claim to be someone and the relying party seeks to confirm that I am who I claim to be.  Or, when I seek to log back into a website, the relying party needs to make sure it is I – the same person who the relying party originally proofed, registered and agreed on an identifier and an associated means of authentication.  

Attributes are more interesting than Identity

Attributes are what matters in the various relationships we have when we interact with another.  As we think about our data we need to think seriously about what other parties need to know about us and what we wish to share with them.  Efforts in Europe to institute GDPR and the efforts in California to implement CCPA

As I continued to read and follow the thread I ended up at a W3C working group working on “Verifiable Claims” and found the following:

Abstract

verifiable claim is a qualification, achievement, quality, or piece of information about an entity’s background such as a name, government ID, payment provider, home address, or university degree. Such a claim describes a quality or qualities, property or properties of an entity which establish its existence and uniqueness. The use cases outlined here are provided in order to make progress toward possible future standardization and interoperability of both low- and high-stakes claims with the goals of storing, transmitting, and receiving digitally verifiable proof of attributes such as qualifications and achievements. The use cases in this document focus on concrete scenarios that the technology defined by the group should address.

The truth is that Identity Providers, as imagined, can’t deliver. Identity is in the eye of the Relying Party. The state of being identified is determined by a Relying Party (RP) once it is satisfied that enough is known about a data subject to manage the risk of transacting with them.

We are expecting people to be better than smarter than the crooks.  This is an interesting thought that begs the question.

How do “we the people” trust anything we hear, read or otherwise come across.

How does each of us keep up with all of the various products, standards, specifications and other efforts to develop stuff capable of securing our “IDENTITY”?

I am a firm believer in the work the FIDO ALLIANCE and W3C’s work on Web Authentication and recommend its adoption and use based on authenticators capable of adhering to a level of security certification commensurate with the associated risk of the acts, transactions, information, and services offered by the relying party to the user.

It is time to move to Multi-Factor Authentication built on a Restricted Operating Environment

Passwords should become a thing of the past. Here’s why

This morning one of my Google alerts found a blog coming from the World Economic Forum.  It reminds us of the inventor of the password Fernando Corbato.  In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, he said passwords have become “a nightmare”.

The open question is how do we solve for the nightmare of password management we have created that is both effortless and secure.

This article calls for private enterprise and our governments to find answers.  I hope in finding these answers capitalism and profit do not become the reason to act.  I hope social responsibility and community action drive all to find answers that are affordable, convenient, secure and more importantly consumer-friendly.

Where are we

Today.

How many passwords are you trying to manage!  Does your LinkedIn contact list connecting you to more than  4,000 individuals?  Does Facebook, Instagram, and other social media websites inundating you with news and stories about your friends, colleagues and interesting people?

How many cookies have your computers accumulated?  How many databases have more information about you than they need?  If we search the dark web, how valuable is your data?

Cando seeks to help you manage your data, identity, assets, and relationships.

Philip lives on Sea Island with his 93-year-old father, the Doctor.  They pursue travel and Philip keeps his head into what is happening in financial services, blockchain, authentication, digital identity, and, whatever else people seeking to understand the transformation; particularly those in the identity and payments space.

What is happening means we can unlock our hotel rooms, cars, and homes from our phones. Our security system iwill be another app we have to find on our phone.

Instead, we need an intuitive assistant seeking to simplify our lives by taking on repetitive tasks like driving, working inside a data table or simply opening up the house for the season.

Normalizing data and performing the analysis capable of earning value is the name of the game.  Management is about stimulating a team to work in the mutual interest of the organization.  Executives define the strategy and articulate the vision in a manner conducive to success.

Cando seeks to help you manage your assets and relationships.  Assets those places and things you use doing your daily life and those interactions you have with people and entities seeking to serve, sell and partner with you.

Then there are friends who we expect to be part of our lives and therefore have privileges and access capabilities.

All of this with a target of selling integration services to the top million and simply assuring each person has an identity thus serving the bottom billion.  ultimately earning $1 per year per user to simply be there when it all breaks and you wish to restore your digital life.

At the core, your digital security will be based on the use of cryptography and sophisticated matching algorithms designed to assure anyone that you are that one individual in the populatations of the universe.

What You possess, What You Are, What You Claim … Your Certificates

NCCOE NIST Multi-Factor Authentication

What you Possess — The Thing

What you Are — You

Your Relationships

Responsibilities

Authority

Advice

— Secrets

My Certificates

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Seven Words

World Wide Web Consortium

FIDO Alliance

Global Platform

The Trusted Computing Group

Future interests

  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Machine Learning
  • Nature Language Interface
  • Predictive Analytics

Biometrics carry risks.

Hacking Our Identity: The Emerging Threats from Biometric Technology

As I skimmed through this article I was reminded of the reality of biometrics.  It is a statistical algorithm designed to compare what was registered to that was just sensed.  It is an imprecise process.  The author reminds us of the importance of our identity in each and every interaction we engage in.  She further ponders the question, of the potential threats to the biometric solutions that countries, people and enterprises are embracing, as we work to address the questions of Authentication and Identification in our complex digital and physical world.

The article asks the questions:

      • Do the countries and enterprises understand the technology and processes used to support biometrics as a means of authentication.
      • Do they appreciate the need to secure and protect this most sensitive of data?
      • Is the data they store able to be used to compromise the individual of the integrity of that which it seeks to protect?
      • Are we at risk of creating a surveillance society?

Finally there is the question of the accuracy of biometric matching.  It is interesting to observe the comparison of the accuracy of biometric matching to PIN or password matching.  We all recognize the challenges of PIN and password.  It is not the concept it is the question of how many complex PIN or passwords is the human mind capable of retaining without writing them down or storing them someplace that can be compromised.

As I have argued in other blogs, the answer must be in the possess of something unique which has a False Reject Rate FRR and a False Accept FAR Rate, both approaching zero.  Clearly the PIN or password has such a characteristic the challenge is in remembering so many.  An object or a thing “Something You Have”, be it a card, phone, watch or bracelet with a Restricted Operating Environment inside e.g. secure element, TEE or TPM, secured using strong cryptography, paired with a biometric makes the most sense.

Identifiers, Tokens and Authentication

Often times I have wondered why everyone is so enamored with Tokens and Tokenization. Some time ago I begged the question of the broken token in a presentation to the Smart Card Alliance.

My premise is simple.

Identifiers are not authenticators. Replacing the identifier with a token as a result of turning an Identifier, the PAN, Social Security Number or other identifying index value, is a bandage on a festering mistake.

What we need to do is address the challenge of authentication in a convenient and frictionless way. Having to protect an identifier was the issue that created PCI and the whole issue of PII data. The Identifier should not need to be protected. It was and still should be an index and means of recognizing the relationship the relying party has with you. The authentication function is to make sure the person linked to that identifier is you!

User name: Identifier

Password: *********

Was not a bad start. Single factor authentication “what you know”.

Given the number of relying parties we all maintain relationships with, it is time to retire the password; Introducing “what you have” a secure thing (be it a chip card, Fob, Mobile Phone or Personal computer) and exploit the power of cryptography. Then add a second factor, a password or PIN, is a great first step. Changing the PIN or Password to a Biometric is a great leap into a truly secure environment.

The Key is to embrace the first factor “What You Have” a true token.

SCA Workshop Tokenization - 2015

We are here to help you figure out the right approach for your organization.

Disruption or the Reality of Legacy

Often times people speak of disruption as this traumatic thing being imposed upon them, their industry or society. Yet, if we look under the covers disruption more than likely is all about a competitor, not locked into a legacy approach, approaching the market with different tools.

The world of payments, as so many others, have implemented technology then gone on to enhance or update multiple times. Each time, someone or some group of people, had to adapt therefore invest to keep up. More often than not, a community would decide to hold on to what they built, sometime ago, hoping no one tried to disrupt the status quo.

With payment the need to embrace more effective approaches parallels the robustness and frequency of transactions. It also parallels the desire of sellers to do business with anonymous buyers. A lack of trust and a need to reduce the amount of cash we carry drove, markets to promissory notes. These promissory notes further evolved, as trusted intermediaries entered the market and created more efficient methods of providing that guarantee of payment.

Not wanting to duplicate what is already written about the history of money and payments we can jump forward through the paper phase to where we are in North America: Cash, cards, some checks and electronic debits & credits.

If we look inside the evolution of legacy.  We find what we have, is a stumbling block, holding innovation back.  We need to decide to adapt what exists or remove and replace.

To connect or disconnect this is the quandry

Pymnts.com in conjunction with Visa published a study of the connectedness of the American population. While reading I wondered how they could identify 36% of our population as Super Connected Consumers. Thinking this profile might be people like myself. I began to wonder how could such a large percent of the population be so connected.

Reaching out to the publisher it became clear this report was well developed and the sample matched the citizen of this country. This led me to wonder about our connected world and how over 42 years I have gone from carrying a beeper to having thermostats, phones, watches, computers, Alexa, TVs, security systems and who knows what else connected somehow to that great network we once dreamed about.

Digital Identity and Multi-Factor Authentication, A Necessity in an Increasing Digital World

Last night November 8, 2018, Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner hosted the Atlanta Chapter of BayPay’s

Digital Identity and Multi-Factor Authentication,
A Necessity in an Increasing Digital World

The panel moderated by Philip Andreae, Principal at Philip Andreae & Associates included:

  • Clay Amerault, First Vice President, Digital Delivery Lead at SunTrust
  • Blair Cohen, Founder, Chief Evangelist & President at AuthenticID
  • Jennifer Singh, Innovation Specialist & Digital Identity Strategist at Thomson Reuters
  • John Dancu, CEO at IDology
  • Vivian van Zyl, Senior Product Architect at FIS

The panel focused on the need to address Digital Identity and Authentication with a clear focus on the user experience.  The discussion considered the balance between friction and security.  All of the panelist  articulating the demand for convenience.  The Audience questions which is it the desire, or is it the demand, of the American consumer.

All agreed, the key issue, as we move towards digital only relationships, is the challenge of Identity Proofing.  The panel also reminded the audience to layer various techniques in order to recognize the presence of the right user and the need to incorporate various fraud mitigation strategies to manage risk and assure identification.

Some of the participants asked if we should start educating the consumer and help them to understand the balance between a frictionless experience and one where a degree of friction is a symbol of how the enterprise (relying party) demonstrates its concern for the consumer’s data and responsibility to protect the consumers assets and identity attributes.

The question of centralize biometric databases versus distributed biometric databases, reminded people of the reality, our data, attributes and identity is already available on the Dark Web.  How we restore privacy and what will happen as the new GDPR regulations go into force in Europe, and as California moves to introduce its privacy legislation; requires each of us to  watch carefully and be part of the move to  restore the consumers’, OUR, right to the data that is us.

of Identity and Authentication in a Connected World of things.

Various engagement and conversations pull me into thinking about the realities and the necessities, of this emerging world of connected people, objects and thoughts.

Looking back, this topic has been part of my life since 1982 when I was first introduced to the concept of a smart card. At that time we spoke of using the smart card to securely configure a trading deck on Wall Street and in the City of London. The goal securely and automatically configure the voice, video and digital support a particular market trader.

In 1993 to when I was tasked to drive the development of EMV, we could have talked about the fact we were creating a means of secure digital identity. A trusted Identity document based on the trust that existed between the cardholder and the financial institution.

Instead We talked about:

  • Card Authentication “the CAM” now Data Authentication to assure the card was unique and genuine.
  • Cardholder Verification “the CVM” to verify the right user was presenting the card.
  • Card risk management to allow the issuer to support authorization in a offline world.
  • Should we include an electronic purse to support low value transactions?

Today the Debit card could easily be enabled as a secure means of digital identification, with the Financial Institution being the trusted party. Simply knowing the public key of the international or domestic debit card payment scheme allows the party reading the card will know the person was issued this card by that financial institution.

While we in financial services focused on our requirements, the telecom industry was working on the SIM & GSM specifications under ETSI leadership. They created another form of Secure Digital Identity. They focused on securing the identity of the communications channel and were less worried about making sure the right consumer was present, although there is the ability to allow the user to lock the SIM and now even the mobile phone.

2013 I had the opportunity to join the FIDO Board. Within that body, the objective was to separate the concept of identity from the act of authentication. It works from the premise that as digital relationships expanded, the use of passwords and PINs are becomes an issue. The FIDO Alliance also recognized that the only way to secure our digital world, like we secured payments and mobile communications was with the introduction of multi-factor authentication rooted in the belief that the first factor had to be “what You Have” a secure element / enclave, TEE, TPM … capable of generating and or storing secret (symmetric) and private (Asymmetric) keys unique to the object and more importantly unique to the relationship.

Clearly identity and authentication are essential to secure relationships. And, in a digital world, communication is the mechanism that connects people and things together.

Helping consumers manage their relationships assuring privacy is an interesting angle. If I am understanding your platform, at least at the level of the subscription for telecommunications services this you are helping to manage.

Anyway. Back to the pitch. I would like to see about scheduling another conversation and figure out if there is anything I can do to earn an income and create revenue for you.