Table of Contents
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY ... 1
INTRODUCTION ... 4
CURRENT LANDSCAPE ... 4
SCOPE ... 6
NATIONAL STRATEGY DEVELOPMENT ................................................................................................. 6
NATIONAL STRATEGY ORGANIZATION ................................................................................................. 7
GUIDING PRINCIPLES ... 8
IDENTITY SOLUTIONS WILL BE SECURE AND RESILIENT ........................................................................ 8
IDENTITY SOLUTIONS WILL BE INTEROPERABLE.................................................................................... 8
IDENTITY SOLUTIONS WILL BE PRIVACY ENHANCING AND VOLUNTARY FOR THE PUBLIC ......................... 9
IDENTITY SOLUTIONS WILL BE COST-EFFECTIVE AND EASY TO USE .................................................... 10
VISION AND BENEFITS ... 12
VISION STATEMENT ... 12
IDENTITY ECOSYSTEM... 12
BENEFITS OF THE IDENTITY ECOSYSTEM ........................................................................................... 18
GOALS AND OBJECTIVES... 21
GOAL 1: DEVELOP A COMPREHENSIVE IDENTITY ECOSYSTEM FRAMEWORK........................................ 21
GOAL 2: BUILD AND IMPLEMENT INTEROPERABLE IDENTITY INFRASTRUCTURE ALIGNED WITH THE
COMMON IDENTITY ECOSYSTEM FRAMEWORK. .................................................................................. 22
GOAL 3: ENHANCE CONFIDENCE AND WILLINGNESS TO PARTICIPATE IN THE IDENTITY ECOSYSTEM. ..... 23
GOAL 4: ENSURE THE LONG-TERM SUCCESS OF THE IDENTITY ECOSYSTEM. ...................................... 24
COMMITMENT TO ACTION ... 26
HIGH PRIORITY ACTIONS... 26
A1 DESIGNATE A FEDERAL AGENCY TO LEAD THE PUBLIC/PRIVATE SECTOR EFFORTS ASSOCIATED WITH ADVANCING THE VISION ... 26
A2 DEVELOP A SHARED, COMPREHENSIVE PUBLIC/PRIVATE SECTOR IMPLEMENTATION PLAN ..... 26
A3 ACCELERATE THE EXPANSION OF GOVERNMENT SERVICES, PILOTS, AND POLICIES THAT ALIGN WITH THE IDENTITY ECOSYSTEM ... 27
A4 WORK TO IMPLEMENT ENHANCED PRIVACY PROTECTIONS ................................................... 27
A5 COORDINATE THE DEVELOPMENT AND REFINEMENT OF RISK MODELS AND INTEROPERABILITY
STANDARDS ... 28
A6 ADDRESS THE LIABILITY CONCERNS OF SERVICE PROVIDERS AND INDIVIDUALS..................... 28
A7 PERFORM OUTREACH AND AWARENESS ACROSS ALL STAKEHOLDERS .................................. 29
A8 CONTINUE COLLABORATING IN INTERNATIONAL EFFORTS..................................................... 29
A9 IDENTIFY OTHER MEANS TO DRIVE ADOPTION OF THE IDENTITY ECOSYSTEM ACROSS THE
NATION ... 29
CONCLUSION ... 31
APPENDIX A – GLOSSARY ... 32
APPENDIX B – PARTICIPANTS... 35
APPENDIX C – FIPPS ... 36
Cyberspace – the interdependent network of information technology components that underpins many of our communications – is a crucial component of the Nation’s critical infrastructure. We use cyberspace to exchange information, buy and sell products and services, and enable many online transactions across a wide range of sectors, both nationally and internationally. As a result, a secure cyberspace is critical to the health of our economy and to the security of our Nation. In particular, the Federal Government must address the recent and alarming rise in online fraud, identity theft, and misuse of information online.
One key step in reducing online fraud and identity theft is to increase the level of trust associated with identities in cyberspace. While this Strategy recognizes the value of anonymity for many online transactions (e.g., blog postings), for other types of transactions (e.g., online banking or accessing electronic health records) it is important that the parties to that transaction have a high degree of trust that they are interacting with known entities. Spoofed websites, stolen passwords, and compromised login accounts are all symptoms of an untrustworthy computing environment. This Strategy seeks to identify ways to raise the level of trust associated with the identities of individuals, organizations, services, and devices involved in certain types of online transactions. The Strategy’s vision is:
Individuals and organizations utilize secure, efficient, easy-to-use, and interoperable identity solutions to access online services in a manner that promotes confidence, privacy, choice, and innovation. More specifically, the Strategy defines and promotes an Identity Ecosystem that supports trusted online environments. The Identity Ecosystem is an online environment where individuals, organizations, services, and devices can trust each other because authoritative sources establish and authenticate their digital identities. The Identity Ecosystem enables:
• Security, by making it more difficult for adversaries to compromise online transactions;
• Efficiency based on convenience for individuals who may choose to manage fewer passwords or accounts than they do today, and for the private sector, which stands to benefit from a reduction in paper-based and account management processes;
• Ease-of-use by automating identity solutions whenever possible and basing them on technology that is easy to operate with minimal training;
• Confidence that digital identities are adequately protected, thereby increasing the use of the Internet for various types of online transactions;
• Increased privacy for individuals, who rely on their data being handled responsibly and who are routinely informed about those who are collecting their data and the purposes for which it is being used;
Greater choice, as identity credentials and devices are offered by providers using interoperable platforms; and
• Opportunities for innovation, as service providers develop or expand the services offered online, particularly those services that are inherently higher in risk;
Privacy protection and voluntary participation are pillars of the Identity Ecosystem. The Identity Ecosystem protects anonymous parties by keeping their identity a secret and sharing only the information necessary to complete the transaction. For example, the Identity Ecosystem allows an individual to provide age without releasing birth date, name, address, or other identifying data. At the other end of the spectrum, the Identity Ecosystem supports transactions that require high assurance of a participant’s identity. The Identity Ecosystem reduces the risk of exploitation of information by unauthorized access through more robust access control techniques. Finally, participation in the Identity Ecosystem is voluntary for both organizations and individuals.
Another pillar of the Identity Ecosystem is interoperability. The Identity Ecosystem leverages strong and interoperable technologies and processes to enable the appropriate level of trust across participants. Interoperability supports identity portability and enables service providers within the Identity Ecosystem to accept a variety of credential and identification media types. The Identity Ecosystem does not rely on the government to be the sole identity provider. Instead, interoperability enables a variety of public and private sector identity providers to participate in the Identity Ecosystem.
Interoperability and privacy protection combine to create a user-centric Identity Ecosystem. User- centricity will allow individuals to select the interoperable credential appropriate for the transaction. Through the creation and adoption of privacy-enhancing policies and standards, individuals will have the ability to transmit no more than the amount of information necessary for the transaction, unless they choose otherwise. In addition, such standards will inhibit the linking of an individual’s transactions and credential use by service providers. Individuals will have more confidence that they exchange information with the appropriate parties, securely transmit that information, and have the information protected in accordance with privacy best practices.
With the vision of the Identity Ecosystem in mind, the National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace (NSTIC) identifies the following goals:
Goal 1: Develop a comprehensive Identity Ecosystem Framework
Goal 2: Build and implement an interoperable identity infrastructure aligned with the Identity Ecosystem Framework
Goal 3: Enhance confidence and willingness to participate in the Identity Ecosystem
Goal 4: Ensure the long-term success of the Identity Ecosystem
The first two goals focus on designing and building the necessary governance, policy, standards, and infrastructure to enable secure delivery of online services. The third goal targets the necessary privacy protections and the education and awareness required to encourage adoption by individuals and businesses. The fourth establishes the mechanisms to promote continued development and improvement of the Identity Ecosystem over time.
Nine high-priority actions align to these goals and the vision. These actions provide the foundation for the Identity Ecosystem implementation. The actions are:
Action 1: Designate a Federal Agency to Lead the Public/Private Sector Efforts Associated with Achieving the Goals of the Strategy
Action 2: Develop a Shared, Comprehensive Public/Private Sector Implementation Plan
Action 3: Accelerate the Expansion of Federal Services, Pilots, and Policies that Align with the Identity Ecosystem
Action 4: Work Among the Public/Private Sectors to Implement Enhanced Privacy Protections
Action 5: Coordinate the Development and Refinement of Risk Models and Interoperability Standards
Action 6: Address the Liability Concerns of Service Providers and Individuals
Action 7: Perform Outreach and Awareness Across all Stakeholders
Action 8: Continue Collaborating in International Efforts
Action 9: Identify Other Means to Drive Adoption of the Identity Ecosystem across the Nation
The execution of the actions above requires the Federal Government to continue to provide leadership, coordination, and collaboration in order to enhance the security of digital identities. To lead the day-to-day coordination of these actions, the Executive Office of the President (EOP) will designate a lead agency within the Federal Government. The Office of the Cybersecurity Coordinator within EOP will continue to lead interagency policy development specified in this action plan. The lead agency will work closely with The Office of the Cybersecurity Coordinator.
This Strategy is a call to action that begins with the Federal Government continuing its role as a primary enabler, first adopter and key supporter of the envisioned Identity Ecosystem. The Federal Government must continually collaborate with the private sector, state, local, tribal, and international governments and provide the leadership and incentives necessary to make the Identity Ecosystem a reality. The private sector in turn is crucial to the execution of this Strategy. Individuals will realize the benefits associated with the Identity Ecosystem through the conduct of their daily online transactions in cyberspace. National success will require a concerted effort from all parties, as well as joint ownership and accountability for the activities identified.Introduction
Imagine a world where individuals can seamlessly access information and services online from a variety of sources – the government, the private sector, other individuals, and even across national borders – with reduced fear of identity theft or fraud, lower probability of losing access to critical services and data, and without the need to manage many accounts and passwords. Individuals can conduct a wide variety of transactions online and trust the identities of the entities with which they interact. Individuals know what information service providers are collecting about them and how they are using it. They have choice in the number and types of user-friendly identity credentials they manage and use to assert their identity online. They have access to a wider array of online services to save time and effort.
In this user centric world, organizations efficiently conduct business online by trusting the identity proofing and credentials provided by other entities as well as the computing environment in which the transactions occur. They are able to eliminate redundant processes associated with collecting, managing, authenticating, authorizing, and validating identity data. They reduce loss due to fraud or data theft through identity assurance efforts appropriate to the types of transactions they conduct, and they are able to offer additional services and higher risk transactions online.
This ideal online world is within reach; however, we must first overcome barriers in the current environment. This Strategy and its associated implementation actions aim to transform the current identity landscape to the desired target state – the Identity Ecosystem. The Identity Ecosystem comprises a combination of transaction participants and interoperable infrastructure to foster trusted digital identities. The Identity Ecosystem is an online environment where individuals, organizations, services, and devices can trust one another through proper identification and authentication.Current Landscape
The United States has grown increasingly reliant on the interconnectivity of the Internet to provide instant access to information and services. However, the benefits that these online services provide have not come without a price. The Nation faces a host of increasingly sophisticated threats against the personal, sensitive, financial, and confidential information of organizations and individuals. Fraudulent transactions within the banking, retail, and other sectors along with intrusions against the Nation’s critical infrastructure assets that are essential to the functioning of our society and economy (utilities, transportation, financial, etc.) are all too common. As more commercial and government services become available online, the amount of sensitive and financial data transmitted over the Internet is ever increasing. Consequently, the probability of loss associated with data theft and corruption, fraud, and privacy breaches increases as well. Although the total amount of losses due to online fraud and cybercrime are difficult to quantify, a few studies illustrate the magnitude of the problem:
• The 2009 Internet Crime Report states, “From January 1, 2009 through December 31, 2009, the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) Web site received 336,655 complaint submissions. This was a 22.3% increase as compared to 2008…the total dollar loss from all referred cases was $559.7 million…up from $264.6 million in 2008.”1
• In 2004, the Congressional Research Service estimated that economic losses totaled $46 billion due to cyber theft.2
• The Cyberspace Policy Review stated that, “Industry estimates of losses from intellectual property to data theft in 2008 range as high as $1 trillion.”3
Over 10 million Americans4 are also victims of identity theft each year. The costs of these crimes extend beyond financial loss to include other costs associated with restoring an identity. A survey by the Federal Trade Commission states that victims of identity theft can spend up to 130 hours reconstructing their identities (e.g., credit rating, bank accounts, reputation, etc.) following an identity crime.5
There are various causes of the online fraud and identity theft identified in the statistics above. Out- of-date software, unsafe web browsing habits, or lack of appropriate anti-virus systems can all lead to the compromise of computer systems. Criminals and other adversaries often exploit weak identity solutions for individuals, websites, email, and the infrastructure that the Internet utilizes. The poor identification, authentication, and authorization practices associated with these identity solutions are the focus of this Strategy.
Further, the online environment today is not user-centric; individuals tend to have little control over their own personal information. They have limited ability to utilize a single digital identity across multiple applications. Individuals also face the increasing complexity and inconvenience associated with managing the large number of user accounts, passwords, and other identity credentials required to conduct services online with disparate organizations. The collection of identity-related information across multiple providers and accounts, coupled with the sharing of personal information through the growth of social media, increases opportunities for data compromise. For example, personal data used to recover lost passwords (e.g., mother’s maiden name, the name of your first pet, etc.) is often publicly available.
In some cases, services providers have met consumer demand for online services, but they have provided inadequate identity assurances. Service providers have also deemed some highly desirable services that could provide further efficiencies and cost savings too risky to conduct online. In order to meet the demand for online services without compromising security, the United States must improve the standards associated with trusted identities in cyberspace.1 “2009 Internet Crime Report.” Internet Crime Complaint Center. IC3. 12 Mar. 2010. Web. 2 Jun. 2010.
2 Congressional Research Service, Report to House Committee on Homeland Security, 2004.
3 “Cyberspace Policy Review.” The White House. The White House. May 2009. Web. 2 Jun. 2010.
4 United States. Department of Justice. Office of the Inspector General. The Department of Justice’s Efforts to Combat Identity Theft. Mar.
2010. Web. 2 Jun. 2010. <http://www.justice.gov/oig/reports/plus/a1021.pdf/>
5 Federal Trade Commission. Federal Trade Commission – 2006 Identity Theft Survey Report. Nov. 2007. Web. 2 Jun. 2010.
The Strategy focuses on ways to establish and maintain trusted digital identities, a key aspect for improving the security of online transactions. Online transactions are electronic communications among two or more parties, connected over the Internet via networks, systems and computers. Identification, authentication, and authorization of these parties within a given transaction enable trust. Individuals, organizations, hardware, and software are all participants in an online transaction; therefore, attention to the identification, authentication, and authorization of each is paramount.
This Strategy focuses on transactions involving the private sector, individuals, and governments. It addresses the international nature of many transactions. It also recognizes ongoing public and private sector efforts relative to trusted identities and builds upon them for application in the larger national and global forum for online services. Numerous other cybersecurity efforts affect the security of online transactions; trusted identity is just one part. These other cybersecurity efforts (which are not within the scope of this Strategy) include securing the cyber supply chain, malware detection and analysis, software assurance, and configuration management. The Strategy recognizes that trusted digital identities are one part of layered security. By themselves, trusted digital identities cannot solve all security issues associated with online transactions, but trusted digital identities do play a critical role in the overall enhancement of security in online transactions.
The identity aspects of securing online transactions are a subset of the overall identity management sphere. The Strategy does not explicitly address identity and trust issues in the offline world. However, online and offline identity solutions can and should complement each other.
Lastly, the Strategy does not advocate for the establishment of a national identification card. Instead, the Strategy seeks to establish an ecosystem of interoperable identity service providers and relying parties where individuals have the choice of different credentials or a single credential for different types of online transactions. Individuals should have the choice of obtaining identity credentials from either public or private sector identity providers, and they should be able to use these credentials for transactions requiring different levels of assurance across different sectors (e.g., health care, financial, and social transactions).National Strategy Development
In recognition of the far-reaching impacts of cyber threats to our Nation’s economy, society, government, and critical infrastructure, the EOP has called for a unified effort across public and private sectors to improve online security. Most recently, the President’s Cyberspace Policy Review stated that:
The Federal government - in collaboration with industry and the civil liberties and privacy communities - should build a cyber security-based identity management vision and strategy for the Nation that considers an array of approaches, including privacy-enhancing technologies. The Federal government must interact with citizens through a myriad of information, services, and benefit programs and thus has an interest in the protection of the public’s private information as well. 3
This recommendation targets not just the activities of the Federal Government, but also the activities of the Nation as a whole – including both public and private interests. The role of government is to address the safety and economic needs of its people. As a result, the White House determined that the Federal Government would take a leadership role in developing a strategy to combat these threats. The Federal Government has already done much in addressing trusted digital identities. For example, the Federal Government’s ongoing efforts to execute the Federal Identity, Credential, and Access Management (FICAM) Roadmap6 are representative of the progress made. This Strategy seeks to accelerate those activities and extend trusted digital identities beyond the Federal boundaries and into the national domain.
Working in close collaboration with the private sector through eighteen critical infrastructure and key resource sectors and encompassing nearly seventy different stakeholder groups, an interagency writing team developed the National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace. This writing team developed the Strategy over approximately 12 months from October 2009 to October 2010.National Strategy Organization
The organization of the remaining sections of the Strategy is as follows:
• Guiding Principles – Establishes the tenets that this Strategy must uphold in order to be successful. The Guiding Principles are necessary characteristics of the Identity Ecosystem.
• Vision and Benefits – Presents the overarching vision the Strategy seeks to achieve along with the details of the Identity Ecosystem and the benefits for individuals, private sector, and Government.
• Goals and Objectives – Defines what this Strategy intends to accomplish.
High Priority Action Plan – Introduces critical tasks that form the basis for realization of the Strategy Goals and Objectives.
• Conclusion – Provides a high-level summary of the Strategy and a call to action for the public and private sectors.
6 www.idmanagement.govGuiding Principles
The Guiding Principles form the foundation for all of the goals, objectives, and actions in the Strategy. The Guiding Principles answer the question: What are the essential characteristics of solutions that support Trusted Identities in Cyberspace?Identity Solutions will be Secure and Resilient
Securing identity solutions against attack or misuse is paramount. Security ensures the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of identity solutions. Strong cryptography, the use of open and well-vetted security standards, and the presence of auditable security processes are critical to the trustworthiness of an identity solution. Identity solutions should have security built into them such that they detect and prevent intrusions, corruption, and disruption to the maximum extent possible.
Identity solutions should be resilient, able to recover and adapt to drastic or abrupt change. They should be capable of timely restoration after disruption occurs and should adapt to the dynamic nature of technology. Tolerance to loss, compromise, or theft is crucial for maintaining services during and after disruption. Security infrastructure should prevent unauthorized transactions by authorized individuals/entities. The ability to support robust forensic capabilities maximizes recovery efforts and provides a valuable opportunity to apply lessons learned to future enhancements.Identity Solutions will be Interoperable
Interoperability encourages service providers to accept a variety of credential and identity media, similar to the way ATMs accept credit and debit cards from different banks. Interoperability supports identity portability by allowing individuals to use a variety of credentials in asserting their digital identities to various service providers.
This principle recognizes two interoperability ideals within the Identity Ecosystem:
1. There will be standardized, reliable credentials and identity media in widespread use; and
2. If an individual, device, or software presents a valid and appropriate credential, any qualified relying party could accept the credential as proof of identity and attributes.
To achieve these ideals, identity solutions should be scalable across multiple federations, spanning traditional geographic borders. An identity federation allows an organization to accept and trust external users authenticated by a third party. Within the Identity Ecosystem, individuals will have the capability to conduct online transactions seamlessly across numerous service providers and identity federations. Identity solutions achieve scalability when all participants in the various federations agree upon a common set of standards, requirements, and enforcement mechanisms for securely exchanging digital identity information, resulting in authentication across federations.
There are three types of interoperability requirements for identity solutions:
• Technical Interoperability – The ability for different technologies to communicate and exchange data based upon well defined and widely adopted interface standards.
• Semantic Interoperability – The ability of each end-point to communicate data and have the receiving party understand the message in the sense intended by the sending party.
• Policy Interoperability – Common business policies and processes (e.g., identity proofing and vetting) related to the transmission, receipt, and acceptance of data between systems, which a legal framework supports.
Lastly, the Identity Ecosystem will encourage identity solutions to utilize non-proprietary standards to help ensure interoperability. In addition, identity solutions will be modular, allowing service providers to build sophisticated identity systems using smaller and simpler sub-systems. This improves the flexibility, reliability, and reuse of these systems, and allows for simplicity and efficiency in change management as service providers can add and remove components without requiring wholesale updates.Identity Solutions will be Privacy Enhancing and Voluntary for the Public
There are practical barriers in place that preserve individual privacy in the offline world. For example, an individual can utilize a driver’s license to open a bank account, get onto an airplane, or get into an age-restricted movie. The Department of Motor Vehicles does not know all the places that service providers accept driver’s licenses as identification. It is also difficult for the bank, the airport, and the movie theater to get together and link the transactions together. At the same time, there are aspects of these offline transactions that are not privacy-protective. The movie theater attendant that checks the driver’s license only needs to know that the individual is over age 18. However, the driver’s license reveals unnecessary information, such as address and actual date of birth, when the individual provides it for age verification.
Ideally, identity solutions should preserve the positive privacy benefits of offline transactions, while mitigating some of the negative privacy aspects. The eight Fair Information Practice Principles (FIPPs)7 — Transparency, Individual Participation, Purpose Specification, Data Minimization, Use Limitation, Data Quality and Integrity, Security, and Accountability and Auditing — are the widely accepted framework for evaluating and mitigating privacy impacts. Universal and integrated adoption of the FIPPs in the Identity Ecosystem should enable individuals to understand and make meaningful choices about the use of their personal information in cyberspace. Adoption of the FIPPs should also ensure that organizations limit data collection, only use and distribute information that is relevant and necessary, maintain appropriate safeguards on that information, and are responsive and accountable to individuals’ privacy expectations.
Fully integrating all of the FIPPs into the Identity Ecosystem will be the key to achieving trusted identities in cyberspace that are truly privacy enhancing. For example, many privacy approaches focus on the principles of Transparency and Individual Participation, which include the provision of privacy notices and individual privacy choices. However, if such approaches fail to incorporate the other FIPPs, the entire burden of implementing privacy protections is on the individual. Alternatively, an Identity Ecosystem grounded in a more holistic adoption of the FIPPs provides multi-faceted privacy protections. It includes, for example, the creation and adoption of privacy-enhancing technical standards that allow individuals to transmit the minimum amount of information necessary to the transaction. Such policies and standards would also minimize the linkage of credential use among and between service providers.7 See appendix C at the end of this document for further detail on the Fair Information Practice Principles.
In circumstances where individuals make choices regarding the use of their data (such as to restrict particular uses), those choices are communicated to and implemented by all subsequent data holders. In addition, the Identity Ecosystem includes limits on the length of time organizations can retain personal information and requires such organizations to provide individuals with appropriate opportunities to access, correct, and delete it. The Identity Ecosystem also requires organizations to maintain auditable records regarding the use and protection of personal information and compliance with applicable standards, law, and policies.
Voluntary participation is another critical element of this Strategy. Engaging in online transactions should be voluntary to both organizations and individuals. The Federal Government will not require organizations to adopt specific identity solutions or to provide online services, nor require individuals to obtain high-assurance digital credentials if they do not want to engage in high-risk online transactions with the government or otherwise. The Identity Ecosystem should encompass a range of transactions from anonymous to high assurance. Thus, the Identity Ecosystem should allow an individual to select the credential he or she deems most appropriate for the transaction, provided the credential meets the risk requirements of the relying party.Identity Solutions will be Cost-Effective and Easy To Use
From the individual’s perspective, the increasing complexity and risk of managing multiple credentials threaten the convenience associated with online transactions. The number and diversity of service providers requires individuals to have multiple usernames and passwords, generally one for each provider. Many require complex and frequent password changes, a burden for both the service provider and the individual. This also imparts an increased risk of account compromise through insecure user management of account credentials and an increased likelihood of account abandonment.
The Identity Ecosystem must address this complexity as well as the underlying security vulnerabilities created by it. The Identity Ecosystem will promote federated identity solutions and foster the reduction and elimination of silos that require individuals to maintain multiple identity credentials. Individuals will benefit from the federated identity solution by establishing a small number of identity credentials that they can leverage across a wide variety of service providers. Organizational entities will benefit from the federated identity solution through the elimination of locally administered or application-specific credential issuance and maintenance.
Identity solutions can result in efficiencies for all parties due in part to reduction in fraud, help desk costs, and expensive paper-based processes. Further, identity solutions that leverage reusable infrastructure promote operational efficiency and further reduce the cost of implementation, thereby increasing the potential return on investment. Identity solutions should be simple to understand, intuitive, easy to use, and enabled by technology that requires minimal user training. Service providers should perform usability studies to quantify ease-of-use. Many existing infrastructure components in use today (e.g., cell phones, smart cards, personal computers) should be leveraged to facilitate ease-of-use through their wide adoption, accessibility, and availability. Whenever possible, identity solutions should be “built-in” to the infrastructure to enable usability.Vision and Benefits
Vision StatementThe vision applies to individuals, businesses, non-profits, advocacy groups, associations, and governments at all levels. The broad applicability of the vision necessitates close collaboration across the private and public sectors. The vision also reflects the user-centric nature of the Identity Ecosystem, which provides greater transparency, privacy protection, flexibility, and choice to the individual. Lastly, the vision incorporates all of the guiding principles.
The identity solutions identified in the vision are primarily associated with identification (establishing unique digital identities) and authentication (associating an individual with a unique identity) technologies and processes. Trusted and validated attributes provide a basis for organizations that offer online services to make authorization decisions.Identity Ecosystem
The Identity Ecosystem is the embodiment of the vision. It is an online environment where individuals, organizations, services, and devices can trust each other because authoritative sources establish and authenticate their digital identities. Similar to ecosystems that we find in nature, it will require disparate organizations and individuals to function together and fulfill unique roles and responsibilities, governed by an overarching set of standards and rules. The Identity Ecosystem also enables anonymity for individuals interacting with services that do not require strong identification and authentication.
The Identity Ecosystem is composed of three layers:
Execution Layer – Conducts transactions in accordance with the rules of the Identity Ecosystem.
Management Layer – Applies and enforces the rules for participants in the Identity Ecosystem.
Governance Layer – Establishes the rules required to function within the Identity Ecosystem.Ecosystem Components
The layers of the Identity Ecosystem identify the participants, policies, processes, and technologies required to provide trusted identification, authentication, and authorization across diverse transaction types. Listed below are the various participants in the Identity Ecosystem. It is important to note that a single organization need not fill each discrete role; rather, it is possible that an organization provides services that cross multiple roles.
• An Individual is the person engaged in an online transaction. A digital identity, which is a set of attributes, represents an individual in a transaction.
• A non-person entity (NPE) may require authentication in the Identity Ecosystem. NPEs can be an organizations, hardware, software, or services and are treated much like
individuals within the Identity Ecosystem. NPEs may engage in a transaction or simply support it.
• Individuals and NPEs are collectively referred to as the subjects of a transaction.
• An Identity Provider (IDP) is responsible for the processes associated with enrolling a subject, and establishing and maintaining the digital identity associated with an individual or NPE. These processes include identity vetting and proofing, as well as revocation, suspension, and recovery of the digital identity. The IDP is responsible for issuing a credential, the information object or device used during a transaction to provide evidence of the subject’s identity; it may also provide linkage to authority, roles, rights, privileges, and other attributes.
• The credential can be stored on an identity medium, which is a device or object (physical or virtual) used for storing one or more credentials, claims, or attributes related to a subject. Identity media are widely available in many formats, such as smart cards, security chips embedded in PCs, cell phones, software based certificates, and USB devices. Selection of the appropriate credential is implementation specific and dependent on the risk tolerance of the participating entities.
• An Attribute Provider (AP) is responsible for the processes associated with establishing and maintaining identity attributes. Attribute maintenance includes validation, updates, and revocation. Attributes are a named quality or characteristic inherent or ascribed to someone or something (e.g., “Jane’s age is at least 21 years”). An attribute provider asserts trusted and validated attribute claims in response to attribute requests from relying parties. In certain instances, a subject may self-assert attribute claims to relying parties;
however, relying parties often depend upon attribute assertions from trusted third parties capable of validating the accuracy of claims. Trusted, validated attributes form the basis
by which relying parties will authorize subjects.
• A Relying Party (RP) makes transaction decisions based upon its receipt, validation, and acceptance of a subject’s authenticated credentials and attributes. Within the Identity Ecosystem, a relying party selects and trusts identity, credential, and attribute providers of their choice based on risk and functional requirements. Relying parties are not required to integrate with all permutations of identity media. Rather, they will trust an identity provider’s assertion of a valid subject credential as appropriate. Relying parties also typically need to identify and authenticate themselves to the subject as part of transactions in the Identity Ecosystem.
• Participants refer to the collective subjects, relying parties, identity media, service providers, and NPEs within a given transaction.
• A Trustmark is a badge, seal, image or logo that indicates a product or service provider has met the requirements of the Identity Ecosystem, as determined by an accreditation authority. To maintain trustmark integrity, the trustmark itself must be resistant to tampering and forgery; participants should be able to both visually and electronically validate its authenticity. The trustmark provides a visible symbol to serve as an aid for individuals and organizations to make informed choices about the providers and identity media they use.
• The Identity Ecosystem Framework is the overarching set of interoperability standards, risk models, privacy and liability policies, trustmark requirements, and enforcement mechanisms that govern the Identity Ecosystem.
• A Governance Authority oversees and maintains the Identity Ecosystem Framework and defines the rules by which a product or service provider in the Identity Ecosystem attains trustmarks. In addition, the Governance Authority is accountable for certifying organizations that wish to become Accreditation Authorities.
• An Accreditation Authority assesses and validates that identity providers, attribute providers, relying parties, and identity media adhere to an agreed upon Trust Framework.
• A Trust Framework defines the rights and responsibilities of a particular set of participants in the Identity Ecosystem; specifies the rules that govern their participation; and outlines the processes and procedures that provide assurance. A Trust Framework considers the level of risk associated with a given transaction and its participants. Many different Trust Frameworks can exist within the Identity Ecosystem, as sets of participants can tailor them to their particular needs. However, the participants must align the Trust Frameworks with the overall Identity Ecosystem Framework.
The combination of these participants, and the standards and agreements among them, form the trust fabric that makes the Identity Ecosystem possible. The following sections provide a functional example of online transactions that take advantage of the Identity Ecosystem. The example addresses each layer of the Identity Ecosystem and demonstrates the benefits associated with adoption, such as:
• Availability of new and innovative services,
• Credential acceptance and trust among diverse industries and governments,
• Privacy enhancement,
• Process efficiency, and
• International applicability.
This example is not an endorsement of specific technologies or processes; rather, it is intended to articulate one of the many possibilities.
Part 1: Execution Layer
The Execution Layer is the place where individuals, organizations and NPEs come together to interact in online transactions following established rules.
As shown in Figure 1, an individual can make informed choices about which relying parties to trust aided by the trustmark they hold. When the individual accesses the online services of the Credentials Selects Hardware and relying party, the relying party may ask her to present a credential and attributes to support authorization of the individual’s requested action. The relying party can request verification of the credential’s validity and the associated digital identity of the individual from a certified identity provider; and validated attribute assertions from certified attribute providers. The user can also provide all validations directly to the relying party through the mediation of privacy- enhancing technology. Attribute providers may supply attribute values (for example, birth date is March 31, 1974) or attribute claims (for example, individual is older than 21).
Figure 1: Execution Layer
NPEs, which include both the hardware and software involved in a transaction, also require rigorous identification, authentication, and authorization within this layer. Similar to individuals, NPEs must have a digital identity managed by an identity provider, and they can have attributes managed by an attribute provider. In Figure 1, individuals, organizations, hardware, software, and data authenticate to a relying party. The relying party must also authenticate to these subjects.
Consider the situation in which a woman requests medical information from the hospital that her husband has recently visited. She would like to know the results of his last blood test using a hospital website. The hospital requires that any such requests be authenticated using a strong credential. In addition, the hospital requires patient approval prior to releasing personal medical information to individuals. The woman has the confidence to perform this transaction online using her cell phone because all parties involved are using a trustmark, which signifies that they adhere to the Identity Ecosystem Framework. She is able to conduct her transaction with minimal personal information exchange, since the hospital (RP) only requires her to reveal the necessary information to complete the transaction, and the authoritative sources of her credential (IDP) and patient approval (AP) only know the identity of the RP as appropriate.
The woman navigates to the hospital website to view her husband’s test results. The website authenticates itself to her, so that she knows she is on the correct website and not sending information to an imposter. For a transaction of this level of risk, the hospital requires the individual to authenticate using a strong credential. The woman has a Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) certificate issued by her cell phone carrier (also her IDP). The certificate is stored on her cell phone and associated to her verified identity. The cell phone contains a Trusted Platform Module (TPM) that is used to authenticate the cell phone. The woman plugs her cell phone into her computer via USB cable to conduct the authentication. The hospital validates the authenticity of the credential, the digital identity and the cell phone. Next, the hospital obtains validation sourced from the husband’s primary care clinic (AP) that he has approved that his wife can have access to his records. Using the clinic’s assertion as proof of approval, the hospital then allows the wife to view the test results.
NPEs within the Identity Ecosystem have embedded identification and authentication processes that support online transactions. In the example, the participant’s Internet Service Providers (ISPs) and hospital networks use Border Gateway Protocol Security (BGPSEC), Internet Protocol Security (IPSEC), and Domain Name System Security Extension (DNSSEC) to authenticate network traffic and transaction data. The developer of the software that the hospital uses to display the health information has digitally signed the software. Infrastructure owners and operators deploy these technologies without requiring the woman to be aware of their existence or how they are used, yet she benefits from the increased authenticity of the communications and data flow that occurs across the Internet infrastructure supporting this transaction.
This entire process executes rapidly; all automated processes, from first click to receiving the test results, are completed at the speed of the Internet.