Is Blockchain identity management an answer to self-sovereign identity?

Last Updated: Thu, May 16, 2019 18:29 hrs
Blockchain (Image Courtesy: Wikipedia)

The core problem with the internet, as it stands, is identity. Every year, millions of dollars are lost in fraud and identity theft because there’s no secure and verifiable way for anyone to prove their identity or prevent malicious actors from using it.

Sophisticated attacks are on the rise. In 2018, over 60 million Americans fell victim to identity fraud, that’s four times the number of victims in 2017. While account hacking reached a 5-year high leading to losses over $5 billion.

Almost every organisation uses ID forms like social security numbers to validate individual identities. In over 35 percent of these breaches, social security numbers were compromised and that’s more than credit card information (30 percent). While businesses may not be able to stop using social identity cards anytime soon, there’s a big opportunity to re-evaluate the concept of identity management and keep consumer data secure.

There are many, like us, who believe blockchain identity management could be an answer to this problem.

The Identity Revolution:

Praised for its ability to move power, over personal data, from businesses back to users, the term self sovereign identity, or what is generally referred to as self- controlled identity, portrays the next step in identity revolution. For a long period of time, large forms have acted as the primary caretakers of user data, but the tables have turned or are at least poised to turn.

The fraud cases are spiking up and the tools or measures used by the firms may not be necessarily better. As a matter of fact, these large organisations spend a lot on security and typically do a pretty average job.

The best thing to do, right now, is to isolate individual information and move it from a pool of identities representing similar data. This will eliminate the honey-pot effect. It’s less practical and moreover, less valuable to attack single individual identity.

Permisionned Data:

With user controlled identity, instead of relying on firms to protect silos of data, consumers will be the one dishing out access to these businesses. Firms that previously leveraged this data on their own terms would be now needing permission to move forward. Most of all, consumers will not be giving out any more information than what’s needed. This will further ensure identification made possible by any single data point without sharing other details.

This changing of the guard may go a long way curtailing the increase in identity fraud.

The transition from physical forms, such as Social Security Numbers, being used in the virtual space, online, may take time, the potential for improved and enhanced security is enough to entice many organisations to pilot the application.

Giving control back to users:

EarthId, for instance, is pioneering the public use of self-sovereign identity. This decentralised, borderless public utility for self-sovereign identity is one of the handful firms pushing for better and greater user control over personal data.

Businesses are unfairly tasked with the burden of protecting personal data. Soon the responsibility will be passed back to users. The advent of self-sovereign identity will give users a chance to reclaim back the control of their information and how it’s used.

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Shiv Aggarwal is the CEO at MyEarth.ID & Europe Lead for the Government Blockchain Association.