The digital era has increased reliance on online services, cloud applications, and websites, both in people’s personal and professional lives. Consequently, digital identities are becoming an integral part of any organization’s operations.
In this post, we discuss some of the top aspects concerning digital identity and how it can impact the enterprise—both positively and negatively. Read on to discover how the concept of digital identity has been transcending into the physical world and how organizations can stay on top of its ever-evolving landscape.
Digital Identity, Explained
Just as people have identities in the “real world,” they have identities in the digital world. Broadly, a digital identity consists of user attributes (such as name, government ID number, email address, biometrics, and other personally identifiable information), and digital activity and behavioral patterns (such as browsing history, downloads, and operating system).
Malicious actors can use various aspects of individuals’ digital identities for nefarious purposes—such as perpetrating fraud or gaining access to enterprise data, which is why it’s important to keep identity data as secure as possible.
Digital Identity Verification
Identity verification is extremely important for protecting digital assets. This process confirms that users are who they say they are. Digital identity verification is typically a requirement for activities like opening a new account and registering for a new service, or accessing existing accounts.
How Does Digital Identity Verification Work?
Businesses and other entities use a variety of methods to verify digital identity. Below are common examples.
ID Document Verification
Verifying registered government documents is a common first step for verification. These could be anything from a passport, to a driver’s license, to a government-issued ID.
Biometrics range from a person’s fingerprint and voice to their gait. Biometric verification is becoming more common for digital identity verification, whether people are traveling through an international airport or purchasing a financial instrument online.
Biometrics are also used for accessing technology, from a mobile device and computer to an organization’s IT systems. Over 75% of Americans have used some form of biometric data verification in the past year.
Liveness detection allows a cross-referencing of data sets to determine if the image being presented within a digital identity is actually the individual and not a deepfake or similar spoofed artifact. Liveness detection searches for strange patterns within images to determine if it has been manipulated. In biometrics—for example, facial recognition—liveness detection is also used to distinguish between a real person and an image.
Knowledge-Based Authentication (KBA)
KBA is another tool in the digital identity toolset where data is cross-referenced to best determine if the requested information is true or false. Typically, KBA consists of asking specific questions. These can be as simple as security questions consisting of “what was your favorite car as a kid?” or a specific action taken like verifying recent transactions on a preferred credit card.
OTP stands for “one-time passcode.” Most people have received these one-time passcodes from various apps and services. They typically consist of a six-digit code sent to a mobile device or email when the user attempts to log into a company’s login page or portal.
Database verification consists of verifying the information against public or private lists and databases, such as social media profiles. This data can provide valuable information when verifying location-based activities, and can also work in tandem with KBA and biometric data verification.
Examples of Digital identity in the Real World
Below are a few examples of where digital identity security is commonly used.
Traveling has become more secure over the past decade. Biometrics, liveness detection, and ID document verification are all used on a daily basis when verifying passengers’ identities at airports, border crossings, and other locations.
Online gaming is a popular pastime across the world. Most people know somebody who plays online games. There’s a lot of room for fraudulent activity in the form of digital payments and prizes purchased within online gaming worlds.
Online gaming is a unique combination of financial technology and entertainment. A secure and easily verifiable platform is necessary to encourage participation within the game. Biometrics, KBA, and OTP verification can help protect users’ identities while freely gaming with other players from all over the world.
Financial technology, or fintech, is growing rapidly while being embraced across the globe. Fintech utilizes nearly every digital identity verification method available.
Financial institutions not only have to be compliant with regulations, they also have to cater to customer needs by protecting their personal and financial data—and they also need to protect the financial institution itself.
Why Digital Identity Is Important in Today’s World
Digital identity is crucial in today’s ever-evolving, digital-everything world. Without a strong digital identity protection plan, enterprises risk having data compromised and used for malicious purposes. At a minimum, the following should be included in digital identity security training programs for all team members.
Protecting Digital Identities
Information on how employees can protect their own digital identities is number one on this list, and for good reason. The level of protection is the one thing the team member can actually control. Protection equals prevention—by protecting their digital identities, employees reduce the risk of a malicious actor using their data to perpetrate crimes.
Protecting Valuable Personal Information
Personal information is valuable—not only to the individual, but to cybercriminals. When a person’s digital identity is not protected, malicious actors can use it to steal valuable information and use it for a variety of purposes, from committing fraud to gaining access into an organization through social engineering.
Team members should learn to encrypt their connections—whether it’s email, text messaging, or video calls—whenever possible. This is just one more inconvenient barrier for attackers to have to break through if they want to attempt intercepting the data. Making it difficult for them helps employees present as harder targets.
Complicated Passwords Help Thwart Hackers
Help team members understand why more complicated passwords are better. Commonly used passwords make it easy for bad actors to access accounts and steal digital identities. They can then impersonate employees, sell their data, or initiate an attack on the organization that results in a data breach.
Train employees to use complex, random passwords for both personal and work accounts.
Avoid Posting Personally Identifiable Information on Social Media
Security training should help team members see that social media offers a treasure trove of information for those with malicious intent. They should never post anything that’s considered personally identifiable information (PII) on social media accounts.
List specific information commonly used for security questions such as their mother’s maiden name and pets’ names, and warn team members not to use them in social media posts. Additionally, train them to avoid alerting people when they are on vacation or traveling while their homes are empty and vulnerable.
Choose SailPoint for Digital Identity Management
SailPoint offers enterprise solutions that help organizations protect their employees’ digital identities and secure sensitive corporate data. Schedule a demo to see how to best secure digital identities.
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