Digital Identity: The what, why and how
April 19, 2021
Are you really who you claim to be?
As the world becomes more digital, this is an increasingly important question for businesses and individuals alike. Without a way to verify identities, the digital world is vulnerable to becoming a place where criminals reign. Personal information and corporate secrets can be stolen, companies held hostage by ransomware and accounts emptied.
For businesses, digital identity protects and controls access to data, systems, services, buildings and computers. Aside from protecting people and information, the practical importance of getting digital identities right includes the ability to help reduce onboarding costs and the cost of breaches. These concerns are exemplified by a 2020 Accenture study showing that about 65% of organizations cited security and risk compliance as the top concern for cloud adoption. In addition, privacy regulations and laws can put organizations at risk for fines of up to 4% of global revenue.
For individuals, digital identity works via driver's licenses, national IDs, boarding passes and the use of mobile device cameras to recognize faces and authenticate into an application.
But it's not just about humans. Identity systems also enable machines to trust other machines.
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Yet as badly as the world needs a simple way to verify identities, it also needs the process to be fast and easy. Without seamless verification, businesses would be crippled, especially considering the growing importance of the Internet of Things, mobile devices and biometrics. We should be able to quickly log on to our computers at work so we can get our jobs done, and machines should be able to talk to each other. This is particularly important as more businesses move to the cloud. Online banking, credit card and mortgage applications, access to materials at work, Teams meetings—all depend on rapid and accurate verification of our identities. It's a trusted bridge from physical to digital, and that bridge has to let traffic pass efficiently.
In my experience, most security breaches occur because of problems with digital identity processes, tools and reach. When I look at recent breaches in the news, most victims lacked multi-factor authentication and strong authentication of administration accounts. Many also use custom-made identity processes that open the door for bad people to do bad things.
Many of these problems occur because companies try to stick with the old ways. The proliferation of data, systems, tools and procedures of today, coupled with digital transformation and the accelerated use of cloud services, are pushing often-manual legacy processes beyond their limits. Another problem is legacy digital identity software from the early 2000s. These old systems are as inefficient as they are insecure.
We know digital identity is doing its job when:
Identity leaders should:
My experience shows organization can reduce costs, time and errors in the above steps via AI, machine learning and analytics. With these advances, I've seen improved user experiences and decreased certification volumes by up to 60%, which also means reduced costs and greater productivity.
The end goal isn't just risk reduction. A robust digital identity solution enables organizations and individuals to interact securely and easily, providing a good user experience while helping reduce time and costs.
For more information about digital identity, please visit: www.accenture.com/digitalidentity.
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