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What Is a Reusable Identity?

Reusable identity, also known as federated identity or single sign-on (SSO), revolves around the idea of leveraging a single identity credential (such as username and password, biometric data, or digital certificate) to authenticate and authorize users across multiple applications or services. This approach eliminates the need for users to manage multiple credentials and simplifies the authentication process, enhancing user experience while maintaining security.



The concept of reusable identity has emerged from the need to provide a solution that brings the digital world something, which is comparable to an identity card in the physical world.


For instance, in the physical world, the ID card, Driving License, and Passport are the three main types of IDs that are used to prove identity. A typical user can use these IDs almost anywhere because they’re universally accepted forms of verification.


Unlike the physical world, the digital sphere operates on different principles. In it, the user has unique credentials for almost every online platform. Besides usernames and passwords, different types of websites require different information. This is precisely where a reusable ID makes sense because it allows online users to use a single credential to prove that they are who they say they are.


Benefits of Reusable Identity:


  • Convenience: Eliminates the need for multiple logins and repetitive verification processes.

  • Security: Utilizes strong encryption and minimizes the amount

  • User Control: Individuals can own and manage their identity data in a secure digital wallet, granting granular access and disclosing only the information required by each service.

Components of reusable identity:


Portability: 

As a consumer, I spent some time proving my identity. Why can’t I use that repeatedly? It seems like a no-brainer, but the market has typically thought of identity in a silo. How does identity pertain to me, the app provider? Reusable identity takes that notion and turns it on its head and instead asks, how can the consumer take that identity to multiple apps and websites.


 Interoperability:

This is closely related to portability. It’s one thing to claim my identity portable, but the larger question is how it interacts with a common language to ensure that I can reuse it. Does identity rely on a standard or a common set of rules? Much like we see so-called “social logins” that rely on technology like OpenID Connect to ensure interoperability, reusable credentials need to rely on similar means to ensure integration ease for the company asking you to prove your identity, as well as a common set of guidelines to ensure a consistent and pleasurable experience for the consumer.

 

Consistency:

This impacts both the consumer and the company requesting the identity. First, the consumer understands the credential; they’ve created the identity once, are comfortable with it, and experience a common interaction when they use it, regardless of which app or website they are interacting with. Typically, it’s branded so the consumer can trust that they aren’t being scammed, phished, etc. The company consuming the identity can rely on a common language of identity assurance that translates into a measurable trust. Additionally, the company doesn’t have to be an expert in identity to integrate it - they can simply ask, “how trustworthy is this identity?” and the response is a measurable attribute.

 

Consumer control:

A key to reusable identity is the notion that consumers have agency over the types of data shared with relying parties asking for consumer identity. For example, If I want only to share that I’m over 21 to an alcohol delivery service, I should be able to do just that and nothing more. And the service should trust that that information is being asserted from a strongly proved identity credential. of personal data stored by individual platforms, potentially reducing the risk of identity theft and fraud.


The future of reusable identity is characterized by advancements in biometric authentication, decentralized identity systems like Infisign (e.g., blockchain-based identities), and enhanced security measures. As organizations embrace digital transformation and adopt cloud-based services, the demand for seamless and secure identity management solutions will continue to grow, driving innovation in the field of reusable identity.





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