Take a moment to consider how many digital services you use every day: social media, contactless payments, digital assistants, mobile banking, movie streaming, and maybe even IoT-powered smart home gadgets. And at some point, you set up a user account, a digital identity, for all of these services. The definition of identity in the digital world is slightly different than in the analogue. Since you can’t easily rely on visual cues like gestures and physical expressions in the digital world, your digital identity is made up of your basic information (name, address, email), perhaps an account number, and a password.
If you start adding up all the digital services you use, you’ll quickly realize just how many digital IDs you have. And depending on the level of security these service providers offer, your digital ID can either provide you access to a great digital experience or cause you a real headache.
How to protect Digital Identities
Identity protection and identity security are paramount to establishing a trusting B2C relationship. When collecting and storing customer data, companies have to ensure data privacy and security and comply with legally regulated data protection measures like the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). However, just as important as legal compliance is customer demand and expectations. When sharing data and providing personal information, customers must know that their digital identities are safe from unauthorized access. And ensuring their safety requires rigorous verification processes.
There are a number of different ways to safeguard digital identities. Identity management in the form of CIAM is a common practice for facilitating the fast set-up of user profiles, managing identity verification and access protocols and giving customers extensive autonomy over their data and their user experience. CIAM can provide near ironclad security when combined with multi-factor authentication - the process of using two or more identity attributes to verify a user’s digital identity. Here are some typical attributes:
- Telephone numbers/email addresses combined with strong passwords consisting of a combination of letters, numbers, and characters.
- eIDs (electronic Identification Documents) issued by external providers, like public authorities or banks, are a legitimate form of digital identification
- Live-verify/video legitimation is an AI-powered tool for confirming a user’s identity during a video call with a company representative. It also expedites document scanning.
- Biometrics like facial recognition and fingerprint scans provide undeniable proof of a person’s identity.
- Behavioural analytics allows companies to track how a user interacts with a service or device and if there are any abnormalities in user behaviour.
- Registry queries make it possible to cross-check a person’s identity on the basis of federal registries, e.g. voting registries.
The advantages of protecting Digital Identities
It is probably obvious that some of these attributes are far more secure than others. The protection methods different companies and services rely on will generally coincide with the sensitivity of the data being protected. After all, the main advantage of protecting digital identities is minimizing the risk to customer data and to company data and infrastructures as well. If personal data is compromised or internal systems are vulnerable, it will be difficult, if not impossible, to establish trusting business relationships and retain customers.
At the same time, weighing the advantages of digital identity security measures against usability is essential. Though the main goal will always be risk minimization, the means have to justify the ends. For example, accessing a personal or business Cloud and online banking accounts should be significantly more complex. Most customers will be happy for added steps to prevent access to digital files and money transfers and payments. However, online rating portals and streaming services should probably opt for less stringent verification methods. It might not be nice if someone hacks into your Netflix account, but video legitimation to watch Stranger Things might be asking too much. Ultimately, the repercussions of someone using your Netflix account won’t be nearly as severe as someone accessing your online bank accounts.
Digital transformation is continuing to advance forward at a rapid pace. Right now, there is a chance to be amongst the companies setting the standards for future digital developments. Streamlining once cumbersome processes has incredible potential to save on costs. And most importantly, there is an opportunity to set yourself apart from the competition by providing robust protection and a great customer experience.