We all have a digital identity. Everything we do online combines to provide an incredibly precise profile of each and every one of us. The concept of digital identity is relatively new, and most of the general population is unaware of just how much of their identity is now online.
Despite all the progress that has been made regarding data privacy, specifically regulations like the GDPR and CCPA, 2019 was not a great year for our data. In this article, we will outline the bad, the good, and the future of identity management.
The Bad – Data Breaches
Data breaches happen on an almost daily basis, and 2019 was no exception. A recent study claims that there is a new victim of identity theft every two seconds in the United States alone. When you then consider that 31% of data breach victims later have their identity stolen, these statistics become even more alarming.
Unfortunately, data breaches seem to have become an inevitable part of modern society. Registering for online accounts is something we don’t even think about anymore, and we often forget that centralized databases that hold all of our personal information will suffer from a data breach sooner or later.
As of December 2019, at least 7.9 billion records, including credit card numbers, home addresses, phone numbers and other highly sensitive information, have been exposed through data breaches.
Facebook was one of the worst offenders of the year, exposing 267 million records in December, 540 million records in April, and 600 million records in March. This makes the company responsible for just under 20% of all records leaked in 2019. Given Facebook’s alarming track record when it comes to data privacy, this isn’t a big surprise.
The biggest data breach of 2019 is still somewhat of a mystery. In October 2019, security researchers Vinny Troia and Bob Diachenko found an unsecured Elasticsearch server containing 1.2 billion records. The leaked data contained names, email addresses, phone numbers,and LinkedIn and Facebook profile information. It is still not known who owned the server, where the data came from, and what the repercussions will be. Hopefully, we’ll find some answers in 2020 as the FBI is currently investigating the breach.
2019 has reminded the world that companies are simply not doing enough to protect our personal data. Organizations both large and small are vulnerable to data breaches, and don’t have the necessary securities in place to prevent them. Part of the problem is that hackers are getting smarter and more creative, but companies need to take a proactive approach to data protection in order to improve in 2020.
The Good – Decentralized Identity
Blockchain technology has changed the world and has helped society enact revolutionary changes, especially when it comes to privacy and identity. Decentralized identity (DID) redefines the way we share, control, and access our personal information. In short, it gives power back to the people when it comes to identity.
To understand just how life changing DID is, here’s an example. Imagine that you’ve moved to a new country and need to sign up for all kinds of services. You’ll need to set up important things like utilities, bank accounts, and more. You might get a new phone and need to install your favorite apps, all of which you are granting access to your data.
Usually, you would have to register and provide proof of identity to each service provider individually, which can take a lot of time. It also means that your personal data is being stored by several different companies and organizations. Additionally, each time you want to access an individual account, you need to prove your identity by providing a password or PIN.
With DID, this process is radically simplified and improved. You only prove your identity once to a trusted third party, and said third party handles all requests for identity confirmation and access so you don’t have to. Instead of submitting a copy of your ID to ten different companies, you only have to do it once on a secure platform.
Currently, providers of DID use blockchain technology to protect your information from hackers and data breaches. The only way to access your information is through a wallet (usually in the form of a desktop or mobile app) that requires a unique master password to access.
DID has the potential to fundamentally change identity forever. More than 1.1 billion people in the world are unable to prove their identity, which means that they can’t access vital services like healthcare and education. There have been several international and national initiatives to create some type of ID for those who don’t have one. However, government bodies are just as vulnerable to data breaches as any company is. Here DID can solve many problems, and it is starting to become a strong contender.
The Finnish government currently has a program that provides Syrian refugees with a prepaid Mastercard that also act as a DID. When you consider that 70% of Syrian refugees are lacking any form of identification, this program is life changing.
Decentralized identity could mean that in the future, identification becomes paperless, which is an exciting prospect. It will be interesting to see how DID develops further this year, and if governments begin to embrace its full potential.
The Future is Now
One of the most exciting parts of 2019 has been the amount of growth that has occurred regarding identity management. Digital identity has become a hot topic and one that is at the forefront of society. And it’s easy to understand why. A study by Deloitte in 2018 found that 81% of US consumers feel like they have lost control over their personal data.
Luckily, innovation has persevered. We created the SelfKey Wallet to put you back in control of your identity. Using blockchain technology, the SelfKey Wallet provides an identity platform where you can manage all of your personal information. You’ll be able to choose what information you want to share, who gets access to it, and for how long. This revolutionizes how you interact with the online world, while protecting your information and privacy.
With the creation of the SelfKey Wallet came the SelfKey Marketplace. You can now open a bank account or business abroad from within the SelfKey Wallet in a matter of minutes. The SelfKey Incorporations Marketplace presents perhaps the most convenient way of opening a business. The jurisdictions on offer are listed with all the relevant information, including the total cost, processing time, applicable taxes and more. Once you’ve picked your preferred jurisdiction it takes less than two minutes to connect your SelfKey ID, pay and submit your application.
Opening an offshore bank account through the SelfKey Marketplace is a similar process and saves you the hassle of dealing with a traditional bank. Through the SelfKey Bank Accounts Marketplace, there are options for personal bank accounts, business bank accounts, and wealth management services available to you. Once again, all relevant information is clearly laid out for you, and submitting your application takes less than two minutes. Offshore banking offers a wide range of benefits to anyone looking to diversify their assets, and starting is now easier than ever.
The SelfKey Wallet offers another benefit as well – Login with SelfKey. Login with SelfKey is a game-changing solution that offers convenient and secure access to integrated partner platforms with just one click. Through your SelfKey ID, you’ll be able to use your blockchain address as a username for logging in to partnered websites, preventing your information at risk of sale, theft, or abuse. Download the Wallet to create your SelfKey ID and start using Login with SelfKey to protect your information.
Conclusion – What’s in store for 2020?
It’s safe to say that identity management will continue to be a popular theme this year. So much of our lives are online that the topic is impossible to ignore. Although we can’t predict the future, you can expect that more conversations around digital identity are going to take place.
The digital world has had to balance convenience and safety, which is a lot to ask. In the past few years, convenience has ruled, driven by what consumers want. It’s easy to understand why. We all have dozens of online accounts, and a tedious registration or log in process means that people are going to become disinterested. However, now safety is starting to take center stage, which is vital for protecting your digital identity.
Blockchain technology has played a vital role when it comes to protecting your online identity, and we can definitely expect this to continue to develop in 2020. Tech giant Microsoft has started working on their own DID project called ION in an effort to offer the average internet user more privacy.
At SelfKey, we’re continuing to develop the SelfKey Wallet to offer more services to users. We are working to add passport and residency services, along with translations and notary services all through the SelfKey Marketplace. Interested in safely sharing your information, sending crypto, and accessing financial services all in one pace? Download the SelfKey Identity Wallet.