Thursday Dec 10, 2009

Trufina: Tackling the Tough Issue of Identity Assurance

trufina Last week I had a stimulating conversation with Jim Kinchley and Chris Madsen, executives of Trufina, a “provider of online identity verification and identity management services, enabling individuals to verify their identity attributes online, and providing the identity management tools for sharing that verified identity information with individuals and websites across the Internet.”

In October, I posted an article entitled Identity Trend 4: Identity Assurance, one of a series of posts about important trends in the Identity Management industry. In that post I proposed, “With the continual expansion of online fraud and other threats to online security and privacy, the need for Identity Assurance methods are rising.  Being able to certify the that the correct Identity credentials are issue to the correct user before access is attempted is an increasingly critical issue.”

A few days after I authored that post, I became aware of Trufina, signed up for an account, paid a small fee, and had my Identity verified through a series of online questions drawn from publicly available information about me that presumably only I would know.  As evidence of that successful vetting process, I posted a Trufina badge on this blog (see right column).  This badge visually represents that my identity had been verified by Trufina, and provides a way that blog visitors could request a Trufina ID Card with details I elect to share.  Do you want to see how it works?  Please click on the Trufina badge or click here, enter your email address, and I’ll send you a link to see my Trufina-verified Identity Card.

Trufina provides a public API to allow websites to take advantage of Trufina identity validation services.  For example, the Naymz online Professional Reputation Network allows members to link their Trufina Verified ID to the Naymz profile.  In such a case, the Trufina Verified ID badge is shown on the Naymz member profile.  I don’t use the Naymz network as extensively as LinkedIn or Facebook, but neither of those more popular social networks have validated my Identity as well as Naymz has done, thanks to the Trufina process.

I look forward to seeing how Trufina progresses in the marketplace.  We really need a critical mass of easily accessible, yet secure, Identity validation services to increase the level of trust and confidence in online relationships.

Friday Oct 23, 2009

Identity Trend 6: Identity Federation

This post is the sixth in a series of eleven posts I am writing about important trends in the Identity Management industry.

imageIdentity Federation refers to the “technologies, standards and use-cases which serve to enable the portability of identity information across otherwise autonomous security domains. The ultimate goal of identity federation is to enable users of one domain to securely access data or systems of another domain seamlessly, and without the need for completely redundant user administration.” (Wikipedia – Federated Identity)

At the present time, Identity Federation technology has been well-proved is in production in many enterprises and government agencies.  As the most broadly deployed standard for enabling cross-domain federation, SAML is well supported by a wide array of software vendors.  Several successful business models have emerged to support federation technology, and implementation of this technology is becoming less complex.  This growth in adoption will most likely continue, both within and beyond enterprise boundaries.

For several vertical markets, such as health care, the need for broad, integrated networks comprised of many interrelated enterprises (e.g. National Health Information Network) is accelerating the demand for federation deployment.

However, business challenges associated with federation are often more difficult to address than technology challenges and continue to be the primary impediment to broader adoption of this technology.  Unless understandable and enforceable trust relationships exist between business entities, the technology to support such trust relationships is meaningless.  Just like technology standards have emerged to enable the technical side of federation, I expect that more standardized legal agreements will be developed to simplify the establishment of legal trust relationships.

As cloud computing gains momentum as an alternative or complementary means to deploy systems and applications, federation can be a key technology to enable integration between various cloud systems or components.  Discussion of how employ federation in cloud systems has led to interesting statements such as proposed by Symplified, Inc., at the recent Digital ID World Conference: “Federation is Dead. Long Live the Federation Fabric.”

The essence of Symplified’s argument is that using Identity Federation for point-to-point system integration is too complex and expensive.  Therefore a web or fabric of federation is needed to simplify and extend current federation models.  I expect that we will see “Federated Service Bus” technology to emerge to address this need, much like Enterprise Service Bus technology is currently employed to simplify complex integration challenges within enterprise systems.

Recommendations:

To determine how you should address Identity Federation, consider questions such as these:

  • Where have you already employed Federation?
  • Where can federation simplify integration within your enterprise?
  • Where would Federation enable more business value for your customers and your partners?
  • Which of these relationships is highest priority for you?
  • What trust relationships have you already established with other enterprises? 
  • What must you do to establish new trust relationships?
About

Discovering Identity was founded on blogs.sun.com in May 2005 as a means of documenting my exploration of the field of Identity and Access Management. In February, 2010, I switched to hosting the blog at DiscoveringIdentity.com. In March 2012, I began posting Oracle-related information in both places.

Thanks for stopping by.

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The views expressed on this blog are my own and do not necessarily reflect the views of my employer, Oracle Corporation, or any other person or organization.

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