A more unified, less fragmented authentication landscape is key to online security
September 16, 2013

Changes in the digital landscape mean that people are increasingly using their personal information online. Paycheck information may exist wholly online, while e-commerce and banking both involve the exchange of private data over the Internet. The use of social media also makes details about the home, family, hobbies and the like accessible to the public. Even individuals who try to minimize the spread of this data can't stop other people or some institutions from releasing part of it. 

Because of this, it's increasingly important that people protect their personal information. Unfortunately, very few adequately safeguard themselves from potential security breaches. Identity theft is an all-too-common problem, and even large organizations regularly report that their data was accessed by outside parties.

The FIDO (Fast Identity Online) Alliance is one attempt to create a more secure environment by trying to implement standardized authentication practices across devices and online services. While simple passwords are one issue affecting identification, so are the multiple usernames and credentials that people use on various websites and personal hardware. FIDO seeks to bypass the inherent risks to that practice by creating scalable, interoperable authentication tools tied to FIDO-enabled devices.

Originally founded by companies such as PayPal, Lenovo and Nok Nok Labs, the organization includes major technology companies such as Google and LG Electronics, with authentication businesses like SecureKey having added FIDO standards to their credentials services. SecureKey is but one of the most recent companies to apply FIDO specifications to their platform, but these protocols are still not widespread. 

A difficulttohandle identity management landscape
The lack of standardization has created a fragmented security landscape, with some organizations requiring a constantly-changing set of passwords while others desire passwords to be structured in a certain way and some want nothing more than a minimum set of characters. Identity management can seem almost impossible under these circumstances, and people will strive for easily remembered credentials so they can remember their authentication details over multiple platforms.

Rather than simplifying their passwords across various sites and devices, people should be encouraged to focus on fewer, but stronger ways to authenticate themselves. Federated identity management can assist with this, as it allows collaborating enterprises to provide one user access to all partnering organizations, TechTarget noted. These groups can establish improved security protocols while reducing a user's need to memorize multiple passwords or work with differing identification standards. One strong protective measure has a better chance of keeping someone's identity safe than multiple, often weak, passwords do.