Tag Archives: Identity

Key Concepts Underpinning Identity Management

By Ian Dobson, The Open Group

Having trust in the true Identity of who and what we connect with in our global online world is vital if we are to have confidence in going online to buy and sell goods, as well as sharing any confidential or private information.  Today, the lack of trust in online Identity forces organizations to set up their own identity management systems, dishing out their own usernames and passwords/PINs for us.  The result is that we end up having to remember (or write and keep in a secret place) typically well over 50 different online identities, which poses a large problem since our online identities are stored by many organizations in many places that are attractive targets for identity thieves.

Online identity is important to all users of computing devices.  Today, our mobile phones are powerful computers.  There are so many mobile apps available that phones are no longer primarily used to make phone calls.  The Internet connects us to a global online world, so we need a global online identity ecosystem that’s robust enough to give us the confidence we need to feel safe and secure online.  Just like credit cards and passports, we need to aim for an online identity ecosystem that has a high-enough level of trust for it to work worldwide.

Of course, this is not easy, as identity is a complex subject.  Online identity experts have been working on trusted identities for many years now, but no acceptable identity ecosystem solution has emerged yet.  There are masses of publications written on the subject by and for technical experts. Two significant ones addressing design principles for online identity are Kim Cameron’s “Laws of Identity“, and the Jericho Forum’s Identity Commandments.

However, these design principles are written for technical experts.  Online identity is a multi-million dollar industry, so why is it so important to non-techie users of online services?

What’s In It For Me?
Why should I care?
Who else has a stake in this?
What’s the business case?
Why should I control my own identity?
Where does privacy come in?
What’s the problem with current solutions?
Why do identity schemes fail?
What key issues should I look for?
How might a practical scheme work?

This is where the Jericho Forum® took a lead.   They recognized the need to provide plain-language answers to these questions and more, so that end-users can appreciate the key issues that make online identity important to them and demand the industry provide identity solutions that make then safe and secure wherever they are in the world.  In August 2012, we published a set of five 4-minute “Identity Key Concepts” videos explaining in a non-techie way why trusted online identity is so important, and what key requirements are needed to create a trustworthy online identity ecosystem.

The Jericho Forum has now followed up by building on the key concepts explained in these five videos in our “Identity Commandments: Key Concepts” guide. This guide fills in the gaps that couldn’t be included in the videos and further explains why supporting practical initiatives aimed at developing a trusted global identity ecosystem is so important to everyone.

Here are links to other relevant identity publications:

Laws of Identity: http://www.identityblog.com/?p=354

Identity Commandments: https://www2.opengroup.org/ogsys/jsp/publications/PublicationDetails.jsp?publicationid=12677

Identity Key Concepts videos: https://collaboration.opengroup.org/jericho/?gpid=326

Identity Commandments: Key Concepts: https://www2.opengroup.org/ogsys/jsp/publications/PublicationDetails.jsp?publicationid=12724

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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Challenges to Building a Global Identity Ecosystem

By Jim Hietala and Ian Dobson, The Open Group

In our five identity videos from the Jericho Forum, a forum of The Open Group:

  • Video #1 explained the “Identity First Principles” – about people (or any entity) having a core identity and how we all operate with a number of personas.
  • Video #2 “Operating with Personas” explained how we use a digital core identifier to create digital personas –as many as we like – to mirror the way we use personas in our daily lives.
  • Video #3 described how “Trust and Privacy interact to provide a trusted privacy-enhanced identity ecosystem.
  • Video #4 “Entities and Entitlement” explained why identity is not just about people – we must include all entities that we want to identify in our digital world, and how “entitlement” rules control access to resources.

In this fifth video – Building a Global Identity Ecosystem – we highlight what we need to change and develop to build a viable identity ecosystem.

The Internet is global, so any identity ecosystem similarly must be capable of being adopted and implemented globally.

This means that establishing a trust ecosystem is essential to widespread adoption of an identity ecosystem. To achieve this, an identity ecosystem must demonstrate its architecture is sufficiently robust to scale to handle the many billions of entities that people all over the world will want, not only to be able to assert their identities and attributes, but also to handle the identities they will also want for all their other types of entities.

It also means that we need to develop an open implementation reference model, so that anyone in the world can develop and implement interoperable identity ecosystem identifiers, personas, and supporting services.

In addition, the trust ecosystem for asserting identities and attributes must be robust, to allow entities to make assertions that relying parties can be confident to consume and therefore use to make risk-based decisions. Agile roots of trust are vital if the identity ecosystem is to have the necessary levels of trust in entities, personas and attributes.

Key to the trust in this whole identity ecosystem is being able to immutably (enduringly and changelessly) link an entity to a digital Core Identifier, so that we can place full trust in knowing that only the person (or other type of entity) holding that Core Identifier can be the person (or other type of entity) it was created from, and no-one or thing can impersonate it. This immutable binding must be created in a form that guarantees the binding and include the interfaces necessary to connect with the digital world.  It should also be easy and cost-effective for all to use.

Of course, the cryptography and standards that this identity ecosystem depends on must be fully open, peer-reviewed and accepted, and freely available, so that all governments and interested parties can assure themselves, just as they can with AES encryption today, that it’s truly open and there are no barriers to implementation. The technologies needed around cryptography, one-way trusts, and zero-knowledge proofs, all exist today, and some of these are already implemented. They need to be gathered into a standard that will support the required model.

Adoption of an identity ecosystem requires a major mindset change in the thinking of relying parties – to receive, accept and use trusted identities and attributes from the identity ecosystem, rather than creating, collecting and verifying all this information for themselves. Being able to consume trusted identities and attributes will bring significant added value to relying parties, because the information will be up-to-date and from authoritative sources, all at significantly lower cost.

Now that you have followed these five Identity Key Concepts videos, we encourage you to use our Identity, Entitlement and Access (IdEA) commandments as the test to evaluate the effectiveness of all identity solutions – existing and proposed. The Open Group is also hosting an hour-long webinar that will preview all five videos and host an expert Q&A shortly afterward on Thursday, August 16.

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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Entities and Entitlement – The Bigger Picture of Identity Management

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 we use a digital core identifier to create digital personas –as many as we like – to mirror the way we use personas in our daily lives. And in the third video we described how “Trust and Privacy” interact to provide a trusted privacy-enhanced identity ecosystem.

In this fourth “Entities and Entitlement” video, we explain the bigger picture – why identity is not just about people. It’s about all things – we call them “entities” – that we want to identify in our digital world. Also, an identity ecosystem doesn’t stop at just “identity,” but additionally involves “entitlement” to access resources.

In our identity ecosystem, we define five types of “entity” that require digital identity: people, devices, organizations, code and agents. For example, a laptop is a device that needs identity. Potentially this device is a company-owned laptop and, therefore, will have a “corporate laptop” persona involving an organization identity. The laptop is running code (we include data in this term), and this code needs to be trusted, therefore, necessitating both identity and attributes. Finally there are agents – someone or something you give authority to act on your behalf. For example, you may give your personal assistant the authority to use specified attributes of your business credit card and frequent flyer personas to book your travel, but your assistant would use their identity.

Identity needs to encompass all these entities to ensure a trusted transaction chain.

All entities having their identity defined using interoperable identifiers allows for rich risk-based decisions to be made. This is “entitlement” – a set of rules, defined by the resource owner, for managing access to a resource (asset, service, or entity) and for what purpose. The level of access is conditioned not only by your identity but is also likely to be constrained by a number of further security considerations. For example your company policy, your location (i.e., are you inside your secure corporate environment, connected via a hotspot or from an Internet café, etc.) or time of day.

In the final (fifth) video, which will be released next Tuesday, August 14, we will examine how this all fits together into a global Identity ecosystem and the key challenges that need to be solved in order to realize it.

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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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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Real-world and Online Personas – From an Identity Management Perspective

By Jim Hietala and Ian Dobson, The Open Group

In the first of the 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 that should be under our control using the principle of primacy, i.e., giving you the ability to control the information about your own identity. You may, of course, decide to pass that control on to some other identity management party.

In this second “Operating with Personas” video, we explain how creating a digital core identifier from your (real-world) core identity must involve a trusted process that is immutable, enduring and unchangeable.

We then describe how we need to create digital personas to mirror the way we use personas in our daily lives – at work, at home, handling our bank accounts, with the tax authority, at the golf club, etc. We can create as many digital personas for ourselves as we wish and can also create new personas from existing ones. We explain the importance of the resulting identity tree, which only works one-way; to protect privacy, we can never go back up the tree to find out about other personas created from the core identifier, especially not the real-world core identity itself. Have a look for yourself:

As you can see, the trust that a relying party has in a persona is a combination of the trust in its derivation from an immutable and secret core identifier – its binding to a trusted organizational identifier, and its attribute information provided by the relevant trusted attribute provider.

In the next (third) video, which will be released next Tuesday, July 31, we will see how trust and persona interact to provide a privacy-enhanced identity ecosystem.

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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Understanding the Importance of Identity

By Jim Hietala and Ian Dobson, The Open Group

In May 2011, the Jericho Forum, a forum of The Open Group, published its Identity, Entitlement & Access (IdEA) commandments, which specified 14 design principles that are essential for identity management solutions to assure globally interoperable trusted identities in cyberspace. These IdEA commandments are aimed at IT architects and designers of both Identity Management and Access Management systems, but the  importance of “identity” extends to everyone – eBusiness managers, eCommerce operations, and individual eConsumers. In order to safeguard our ability to control and manage our own identity and privacy in online activities, we need every online user to support creating an Identity Ecosystem that satisfies these IdEA commandments.

We’re proud to announce that the Jericho Forum has created a series of five “Identity Key Concepts” videos to explain the key concepts that we should all understand on the topics of identity, entitlement, and access management in cartoon-style plain language.

The first installment in the series, Identity First Principles, available here and below, starts the discussion of how we identify ourselves. The video describes some fundamental concepts in identity, including core identity, identity attributes, personas, root identity, trust, attribute aggregation and primacy. These can be complex concepts for non-identity experts However, the cartoons describe the concepts in an approachable and easy-to-understand manner.

The remaining videos in the series cover the following concepts:

  • Video 2 – Operating with Personas
  • Video 3 – Trust and Privacy
  • Video 4 – The Bigger Picture, Entities and Entitlements
  • Video 5 – Building a Global Ecosystem

These identity cartoon videos will be published on successive Tuesdays over the next five weeks, so be sure to come back next Tuesday!

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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