Part of the future of identity series
By Andre Boysen, executive vice president, marketing, SecureKey Technologies
Boysen serves as SecureKey’s digital identity evangelist and is responsible for positioning the company’s growth strategy and cultivating opportunities in new and existing markets. Prior to joining SecureKey, Boysen co-founded and served as chief technology officer of 724 Solutions Inc.
Passwords are like the Tribbles in the Star Trek episode, “Trouble with Tribbles.” They start out cute and memorable, then they multiply over and over and over.
However, the model to a better digital future is already at work. The Government of Canada is providing a beacon of hope for a future without proliferating passwords. A future that makes it easy for citizens to use their established credentials to access the services they need without requiring dedicated credentials for every destination – and still maintaining the privacy that citizens expect.
The Canadian identity system, in full operation since April 2012, makes it convenient for people to access more than 85 online services by offering them the choice to sign in using the familiar authentication credentials they use for banking and financial services.
The approach is clearly resonating. The service has well surpassed the 1 million credential milestone and now processes approximately 1 million transactions per month, with volumes growing rapidly. This showcases that people are ready for a new way to connect with the online services they need.
Consumer choice and privacy matter
Canadians use credentials to access their bank frequently and it is familiar and trusted. Importantly, banks also have the proper credibility and trust for government services as well. In compliance with federal privacy legislation, citizen privacy is respected under the system, as financial institutions and government agencies do not share any information that personally identifies individuals.
The service has been an important addition to banks’ ability to expand their reach, and is a great example of how the government and industry can successfully work together.
The network effect: utility increases as more come online
The Government of the Northwest Territories is the first jurisdiction outside of the Government of Canada to adopt the service.
According to Dave Heffernan, corporate CIO for the Government of the Northwest Territories, providing easier online access to government services is a central component of the territories Service Innovation Strategy – an initiative to improve service delivery to residents, businesses and visitors. By enabling citizens to use authentication credentials they already have and trust, the territories will be able to improve online services for things like renewing vehicle registrations.
In the United States, the shift is on as well. SecureKey is working the federal government on a cloud-based authentication infrastructure for the new Federal Cloud Credential Exchange (FCCX). The FCCX service is designed to enable individuals to securely access online services – such as health benefits, student loan information and retirement benefit information – at multiple federal agencies without the need to use a different password or other digital identification for each service.
The future is now
Identity is at a fascinating tipping point. The user ID and password model was created decades ago to manage billing for mainframes, without any vision for a connected world like we have today. As such, passwords continue to wreak havoc because each service requires unique, strong credentials. This also turns every service provider into an identity provider – something they don’t want to be!
The new approach demonstrates that consumers are ready for a new credentials model to access the online services they want and need. In fact, it is a very safe way to allow users to do what they are doing already – leveraging common credentials across the web destinations they visit. Additionally, it shows what’s really possible when industry and government truly work together for the good of citizens everywhere.
It’s time to rid the world of the password Tribbles that multiply uncontrollably. The public is ready for it, aren’t you?