Trust and Privacy – In an Identity Management Ecosystem

By Jim Hietala and Ian Dobson, The Open Group

In the first of these five identity videos from the Jericho Forum, a forum of The Open Group, we explained the “Identity First Principles” – about people (or any entity) having a core identity, and how we all operate with a number of personas. In the second “Operating with Personas” video, we explained how creating a digital core identifier from your (real-world) core identity must involve a trusted process that is immutable (i.e. enduring and unchangeable), and how we can create digital personas –as many as we like – to mirror the way we use personas in our daily lives.

This third video explains how trust and privacy interact to provide a trusted privacy-enhanced identity ecosystem:

Each persona requires only the personal information (attributes) it needs it assert what a relying party needs to know, and no more.  For example, your “eGovernment citizen” persona would link your core identifier to your national government confirmation that you are a citizen, so if this persona is hacked, then only the attribute information of you being a citizen would be exposed and nothing else.  No other attributes about you would be revealed, thereby protecting all your other identity information and your privacy.

This is a fundamental difference to having an identity provider that maintains a super-store containing all your attributes, which would all be exposed if it was successfully hacked, or possibly mis-used under some future change-of-use marketing or government regulatory power. Remember, too, that once you give someone else, including identity providers, personal information, then you‘ve given up your control over how well it’s maintained/updated and used in the future.

If a relying party needs a higher level of trust before accepting that the digital you is really you, then you can create a new persona with additional attributes that will provide the required level of trust, or you can supply several of your personas (e.g., your address persona, your credit card persona and your online purchasing account persona), which together provide the relying party with the level of trust they need. A good example of this is buying a high-value item to be delivered to your door. Again, you only have to reveal information about you that the relying party requires.  This minimizes the exposure of your identity attributes and anyone’s ability to aggregate identity information about you.

In the next (fourth) video, which will be released next Tuesday, August 7, we will look at the bigger picture to understand why the identity ecosystem needs to be about more than just people.

Jim Hietala, CISSP, GSEC, is the Vice President, Security for The Open Group, where he manages all IT security and risk management programs and standards activities. He participates in the SANS Analyst/Expert program and has also published numerous articles on information security, risk management, and compliance topics in publications including The ISSA Journal, Bank Accounting & Finance, Risk Factor, SC Magazine, and others.

Ian Dobson is the director of the Security Forum and the Jericho Forum for The Open Group, coordinating and facilitating the members to achieve their goals in our challenging information security world.  In the Security Forum, his focus is on supporting development of open standards and guides on security architectures and management of risk and security, while in the Jericho Forum he works with members to anticipate the requirements for the security solutions we will need in future. 

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