Identity Can't Recognize Itself

Identity management needs to be 'frictionless' if it is going to gain users.

Identity management needs to be "frictionless" if it is going to gain users. It can't unacceptably intrude upon the user while they are using it. Think of a Slack channel, for example. Once a user has been registered, Slack knows a user and can change their permissions on the fly without interaction from them.

But that comes at a price for the channel's manager. Let's say a user has been added to a mobile Slack channel and then quits the enterprise. It will take 30 days to stop the departee's access to that channel. The tools that are needed by managers are not available to them right now, and the enterprise is paying the price.

There are so many fragmented parts to identity at the moment, It's easy to see the barriers to identity use. Vendors are selling parts of a solution (usually proprietary to boot), but the market wants more comprehensive ones.

Standards are a way to try and herd the security cats into a functional area. By creating an implementable standard, groups are enabled to function together.

Kim Cameron of Microsoft has been dealing with identity and the standards around them for a decade. He told an Identiverse panel audience that standards have "standards gas" around them that causes the author to ignore other standards and think that their standard is the most important.

A true standard, in his opinion, is one that unites all participants and makes their overall job easier. But as for a standard for identity, there has to be core agreement on the basis constituent. Richard Bird, CCIO of Ping Identity, thinks he has an idea about where a real-life identity standard will come from. In fact, he told Security Now that the basis is already here.

He pulled out his driver's license and said, "I'm under the RealID construct. The Feds were really, really sneaky starting in 2009. It has multiple forms of authentication, it's chipped and it has QR codes."

He continued, "The Federal Government has said if you as a state do not use this required framework then your citizens will not be able to travel in an airplane after October 2020. I was talking to the US CISO at the show, and he said that the US Government is not advocating for a national identity, it's advocating for a universally recognized national identity."

"This all fits in with identity being the core of security, which many companies are realizing it's not about firewalls anymore." What we accept as an identity in the digital realm has to evolve, much as our computer use has evolved. However it comes about, there are many economic interests that want to see a digital identity become a useful tool in the quiver of security.

— Larry Loeb has written for many of the last century's major "dead tree" computer magazines, having been, among other things, a consulting editor for BYTE magazine and senior editor for the launch of WebWeek.