The Future of Identity Management

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In June 2019, the Department of Home Affairs (DHA), the Ministry of Home Affairs, of the Republic of South Africa hosted the 5th Annual Meeting of the ID4Africa Movement (ID4Africa 2019) in Johannesburg. The discussions held have prompted this two-part series as we discuss identity and identity management. Here we detail the different forms that can be collected for verification and information storage and, suggest the best possible means for identity management in the nearest future. You can find all materials from the conference here.

Physical and digital identities are getting more and more connected to one another and this has demanded that the future of identity must be a highly distinguishable factor. According to Philip Andreae, Founder and Principal Consultant of Philip Andreae & Associates, digital identity is how we as consumers, employees and citizens identify ourselves in cyberspace i.e. that which is given to persons in form of usernames or user identification numbers. Organisations, governments and enterprises have, in turn, taken advantage of this information to create more functional uses of digital identity, such as creating personalised customer experiences and facilitating greater ease-of-use. This concept is known as Personal Data or Personally Identifiable Information (PII) and it is what makes use of digital identity and helps to accurately distinguish and trace individuals’ identities and can assist with reducing the risk of fraud.

The world wide web is a boundless resource that has led to an insatiable thirst for accessibility and frictionless experiences by its users and consumers and as consumers of various products and services we have become accustomed to divulging information about ourselves. Security has become a relevant source of concern for companies and users alike as there is now a high risk of fraud; the use of passwords has also failed in the protection of valuable data from fraudsters and identity thieves thus far. This has led to conversations on how digital identities can be stored and protected by stakeholders. In an article from The Economist, it is argued that in the physical world, a person should reserve the right to decide whether or not they want to share some information, who can have access to it, for how long they should have access to it, for what reasons and, should be able to modify some of this information. However, in the digital/virtual world it is easier said than done. Statistics show that people tend to become complacent with their password generation, often using the same password for three or more different platforms at a time, proving them almost obsolete in the protection of identity. This has come in good timing as fraudsters have been able to gain access to users’ privacy using hacking methods such as Brute Force Attack or Phishing.

Presently, password protection goes hand-in-hand with biometrics and has gained a lot ground as a highly secure form of identity protection because it involves unduplicatable features of oneself thereby limiting the risk of fraud. It is for the above stated reason and so much more that we believe the use of biometrics is the best option for identity protection as it comes with more accountability; it is convenient and most importantly, the security it offers cannot be duplicated Microsoft has taken the lead to expanding security horizons by exploring other secure and more convenient options as replacements for password security. We believe the use of biometrics is the best option for identity protection as it comes with more accountability; it is convenient and most importantly, the security it offers cannot be duplicated.

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