A team of leading online-identity and technology providers, led by Criterion Systems and including Verizon, has been awarded a federal grant to develop a pilot program to test new solutions that will create a seamless, more secure online identity system. The new system will help enhance the protection of Internet users from identity theft and cybercrime.
The grant funding is provided by the National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace, a public- and private-sector initiative launched by the White House in 2011, which is working to create an Internet-identity ecosystem that improves the privacy, security and convenience of sensitive online transactions. It is part of the U.S. Commerce Department's National Institute of Standards and Technology.
Verizon, one of two providers of high-assurance identity credentials on the pilot program team, will use its Universal Identity Services platform to prove a safer approach for Internet users. The program will help determine the feasibility of providing cost-effective and easy-to-use "trust elevation," or validation efforts, for online credentials. With trust elevation, individuals will be able to use one set of credentials to access any website, including those with sensitive data such as online banking and medical records.
Trust elevation uses a username and password in combination with additional information to electronically validate the user's online identity.
The validation process would work like this: To obtain initial access to a website, a user would be asked to provide a username and password. Then, depending on the type of online transaction involved, a series of automatic validation steps would occur.
For example, when making a purchase, a user might be asked to provide additional information - such as the user's fingerprint, recent financial transaction or mobile phone - or answer a question that the online merchant can verify. If the correct information is provided, the online transaction would proceed; if not, the online merchant would either cancel the order or contact the purchaser to confirm his identity. Such a system would strengthen the username-password validation and eliminate the need to maintain multiple website-specific logons.
"It is clear that the traditional method of using non-validated usernames and passwords for secure online access is no match for determined cybercriminals," said Peter Tippett, vice president of Verizon Enterprise Solutions' innovation incubator.
"Through close collaboration with Criterion Systems, our objective is to transform how usernames and passwords are used and online identities are validated to provide a safer, more trustworthy Internet. Providing one set of credentials to log on to any website and conduct any type of online transaction will be a game-changer for Internet users."
The Criterion Systems-led team will work with leading enterprises in the retail, financial services and health care sectors, as well as government agencies, to test the program. Technical preparations for a total of eight pilot projects are currently under way, with the initial ones expected to launch in the first quarter of 2013. The pilots will last for two years.
"The objective of the Criterion Systems pilot is to prove that trust elevation of lower-level assurance credentials is not only possible but achievable on a large scale," said David Coxe, co-founder of Criterion Systems and chief executive officer of ID Dataweb. "With Verizon and our other team members, we have assembled a group of leading companies that have the technology and experience to tackle this critical issue."
Delivered via the cloud, Verizon Universal Identity Services help control the costs and reduce the complexity associated with traditional identity authentication. The multifactored credentials are designed to meet Level 3 authentication requirements created by the National Institute of Standards and Technology, the federal agency that works with industry to develop and apply technology, measurements and standards. Verizon has also earned the Identity, Credential and Access Management certification.
Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE, Nasdaq: VZ), headquartered in New York, is a global leader in delivering broadband and other wireless and wireline communications services to consumer, business, government and wholesale customers. Verizon Wireless (verizon.com) operates America's most reliable wireless network, with nearly 96 million retail customers nationwide. Verizon also provides converged communications, information and entertainment services over America's most advanced fiber-optic network, and delivers integrated business solutions to customers in more than 150 countries, including all of the Fortune 500. A Dow 30 company with $111 billion in 2011 revenues, Verizon employs a diverse workforce of 184,500.
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