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January 28, 2015updated 21 Oct 2016 5:36pm

IBM’s plans to fix personal identity security crisis

It launches crypto algo and development platform for personal identity and privacy protection

By Sam

IBM researchers announced plans for a cloud-based technology that holds potential to help consumers better protect online personal data, including date of birth, home address and credit card numbers.

Clled Identity Mixer, it uses a cryptographic algorithm to encrypt the certified identity attributes of a user, such as their age, nationality, address and credit card number in a way that allows the user to reveal only selected pieces to third parties.

Identity Mixer can be used within a digital wallet, which contains credentials certified by a trusted third party, such as a government-issued electronic identity card. It’s important to note that the issuer of the credentials has no knowledge of how and when they are being used.

Beginning this spring, BlueMix subscribers will be able to experiment with Identity Mixer within their own applications and web services. Using simple pull down menus, developers can choose the types of data that they wish to secure and BlueMix will provide the code, which can then be embedded in their services.

"Identity Mixer incorporates more than a decade of research to bring the concept of minimal disclosure of identity-related data to reality, and now it is ready to use for both computers and mobile device transactions," said Dr. Jan Camenisch, cryptographer and co-inventor of Identity Mixer at IBM Research.

"We wanted individuals to have control over what they reveal about themselves," said, Dr. Anna Lysyanskaya, a co-inventor of Identity Mixer, who is currently a professor of computer science at Brown University. "With Identity Mixer now in the cloud, developers have a very strong cryptographic tool that makes privacy practical; it is a piece of software that you can incorporate into an identity management service, making future privacy breaches less likely than ever before."

"Identity Mixer enables users to choose precisely which data to share, and with whom", said Christina Peters, IBM’s Chief Privacy Officer. "Now web service providers can improve their risk profile and enhance trust with customers, and it’s all in the cloud making it easy for developers to program."

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According to comScore, the average person spends nearly 25 hours per month using the Internet, accessing dozens of different Internet services, including banking, shopping and social networks.

For virtually every service, users have to create a personal profile with a username and password — or for stronger security — cryptographic certificates. Although such tools can offer sufficient security for many purposes, they do not typically provide any level of privacy for the user, causing them to reveal more personal data than is necessary, which can be costly if it falls into the wrong hands.

The applications can include video streaming access for restricted content, payment protection

IBM is collaborating with two pilot projects. A two year 8.6m euro pilot will test Identity Mixer in two scenarios: in Germany with the Deutsches Rotes Kreuz (DRK, or the German Red Cross), and with the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), Australia’s national science agency.

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