Digital identity is now as important as any other conventional personal identification document. As a lot of our day to day transactions migrate online, the need for a secure and verifiable digital identity is now more evident than ever before. Our banking, housing, taxes, and even shopping are all managed online. Like every other innovation, digital migration has come with its benefits, as well as previously unknown challenges. Let’s take a closer look.
Online transactions are very convenient, saving us time and money that would otherwise be spent on transportation and communication. Just imagine the hustle of having to write checks for every bill and then mailing them, or having to visit several stores looking for a good price on a particular item you wish to buy. Time is money, and everything that takes up more time than it needs to is an added cost. So, apart from convenience, online transactions save us money.
The biggest challenge facing all online transactions is hacking. A whole new industry of piracy has emerged, with people aiming to make a buck where they do not deserve to. Previously, a username and password are all that was needed to keep an account secure, but criminals have learned how to get across that barrier.
Using sophisticated bots, they can run millions of possible password combinations and access any account. All they need to accomplish this is an email address and username. Once cracked, they can do anything from changing your password to stealing your personal information or worse – compromising your digital identity.
The data leak at Yahoo! in 2013 led to the exposure of the personal details of all 3 billion subscribers. The stolen data did not include passwords, credit card or bank account information, but it ended the era of presumed online safety of personal data. That was only the beginning because since then, other companies have reported similar breaches. Aadhar, Quora, Marriot, Under Armor, and Facebook are some of the most recent companies to report data breaches.
If your online personal information lands in the wrong hands, they can pretend to be you and carry out criminal activity – just as they would offline. This problem has given many talented engineers long nights as they try to figure out how to secure our identity and keep the login experience on our favorite sites quick and easy – not an easy task.
Tech Companies Fight Back To Protect Your Digital Identity
Two-Factor Authentication is one of the ways tech companies are fighting hackers. A login attempt on one device has to be confirmed either by SMS verification code or through an app on a trusted device. With two-factor authentication enabled, even if a hacker has your emails address and username, they cannot access your account. Facebook, Google, and Apple are some of the biggest tech companies to integrate this technology onto their platforms.
Google Authenticator is an excellent app to enable two-factor authentication on websites. It changes passcodes about every 10 seconds. It works even without an internet connection. It is available on Android as well as iOS.
Google now offers a seamless password vault that works across all Android devices and Chrome on desktop – similar to Apple’s Keychain. Users are encouraged to use longer and complex passwords because they are harder to crack. Both Chrome and Safari offer automated password suggestions.
Mobile phone manufacturers are also working hard to stop identity theft by integrating more security features into their hardware such as advanced facial recognition and biometric technology.
Blockchain technology promises to put an end to identity theft by creating and using identity networks. IBM is among the leading companies exploring this technology. We’ll tackle blockchain in more detail in a future post.
Summing it up
It’s disappointing to realize that there are people out there who steal and enjoy it. Taking precautionary measures as you use the internet is just the same as setting up an alarm system in your home. Don’t wait till it’s too late. Make sure to use one of the ways mentioned in this article to protect your online accounts.
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