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.