Digital Identity Management: What Is It & Why Is It Important for Enterprises?

With work-from-home emerging as a consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s more critical than ever for organizations and enterprises to step up data security measures, particularly in user authentication and protection of personal credentials.

In this article, we’ll explore the purpose of Digital Identity Management, examine the components of a Digital Identity Management system and its importance for enterprises, and investigate what a Trusted Digital Identity entails.

What Is Digital Identity Management?

From the moment we wake up in the morning until we turn in for the night, we are constantly sharing personal data, be it through our fitness trackers, mobile phones, laptops, or digital personal assistants like Siri and Alexa.

The more data we share, the greater the chances of it being mismanaged and misused. Digital technology greatly enhances our quality of life, but it also exposes us to vulnerabilities in data privacy and security.

Our digital identity—the collection of information used to identify us comprising unique identifiers and user patterns—allows online services, websites, and apps to confirm that we are who we say we are to identify, track, and verify our activities and transactions online.

Likewise, all employees are assigned a digital identity to access company resources and data, be it on-premises or remotely. While on-premises firewalls and malware protection are somewhat easier to enforce, the problem arises from the complex tracking and validating of remote data access.

A company can have the most robust security measures in place, but it can’t prevent an employee from falling prey to a phishing attack and unwittingly sharing their corporate access with a cybercriminal. To err is human, after all.

This is why professional Digital Identity Management solutions by specialized Identity-as-a-Service (IDaaS) providers are key towards curbing unauthorized data access and identity theft.

A comprehensive Digital Identity Management system allows an organization to seamlessly and securely manage the complete identity lifecycle of its employees and devices across all platforms whether on-premises, in the cloud, or on mobile. This includes the following:

  • Automatic creation of employee or device identity
  • Role-based provisioning and de-provisioning
  • Social registration
  • Profile and privacy management
  • Automatic synchronization & reconciliation

Why Is Digital Identity Management Important?

According to a 2020 Gartner survey, 82% of corporate leaders plan to make some form of remote working policy permanent, with 47% of respondents saying “they intend to allow employees to work remotely full time going forward.”

Add to this the findings from a 2020 Cybersecurity study that since the start of the pandemic, “60% of mid-sized businesses that had asked their employees to work remotely experienced a cyberattack in the last year; 56% of those experienced credential theft, and 48% experienced social engineering, such as phishing.”

This spike in credential theft and phishing underscores the urgent need to rethink user authentication, as remote working becomes the new normal in our post-pandemic world.

Examples of Identity Management Use Cases

Common use cases of Digital Identity Management solutions include the following:

  • Digital Signature:
    Not to be mistaken with electronic signatures such as a scan of a hand-written signature, a stamp, or a typed name on a document, a digital signature is a mathematical algorithm used to validate the authenticity and integrity of a transaction, message, or digital document. A digital signature acts as a virtual fingerprint unique to an individual and is protected by strong encryption.
  • Physical Access:
    With a Digital Identity Management system in place, an individual can gain authorized access to public transportation, buildings, events, or public facilities as and when they need to.
  • Seamless Online Authentication:
    An integrated Digital Identity Management solution would provide verified individuals with secure and convenient access to different online services across all platforms.

What Is Digital Identity Verification?

As the world gravitates towards working, studying, shopping, and doing almost everything online, being able to prove that we are who we say we are isn’t just a security issue but one that affects our user experience.

Digital identity verification is a process of authenticating an individual’s identity using computer technology. While traditional identity authentication involves setting a password, having to regularly change passwords on top of setting different, securely-configured passwords for separate services leads to a tedious and complex user experience.

Rather, a single sign-on (SSO) system (an example of a Digital Identity Management use case) offers an elegant solution that allows access to different applications with a single login. An example would be using your Google login to access different Google services.

How Do I Create a Trusted Digital Identity?

There are three basic steps involved in creating a Trusted Digital ID:

  1. Capture
    ID document & biometrics
  2. Verify
    ID document & biometrics
  3. Digitalize
    the data to create a Trusted Digital ID

#1: Capture

First, the individual’s information is captured from an official identity document such as a passport, national ID, residence permit, or driver’s license. This involves extracting information such as name, birth date, and nationality using OCR (optical character recognition).

Next, the individual’s biometric information from the face, fingerprint, or retina is captured using a mobile phone, web camera, tablet, or specialized scanners.

#2: Verify

If you’re wondering how an identity verification process works, there are two parts to it.

Firstly, specialized software is used to verify the authenticity of the ID document. This involves validating the document’s security features against the national identity database. Document verification can vary from standard (ID picture is examined under visible light) to advanced examination under white, infra-red, or ultraviolet light, as well as chip-based electronic document verification.

Secondly, the individual’s biometric data is verified using biometric technology to confirm that the person in the ID document is in fact the person presenting it.

#3: Digitalize

Upon confirming a match between the biometric data and the identity document, a Trusted Digital ID is created. This allows the individual to access online services easily in the future, where they can log in with a simple fingerprint or facial scan without having to remember usernames and passwords.

TrustGrid’s Solution: A Digital Trust Ecosystem Using Distributed Ledger Technology

Since individual user authentication remains the weak link in security, a better solution lies in having security reside with the individual rather than using passwords or access keys.

By adopting distributed ledger technology (such as blockchain), authentication credentials can remain secure while users are provided an impossible-to-counterfeit digital ID card that can be used almost everywhere. Meanwhile, information security managers can easily manage individual credentials while controlling access to enterprise assets.

Curious to learn more?

Talk to us to find out how we can help your organization safeguard its data privacy and security while growing your bottom line.

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