Below is a copy of our July 2020 newsletter, The SSI Roundup. To get the best SSI headlines, events, and resources sent straight to your inbox each month, subscribe below:
The Self-Sovereign Identity Roundup: July 2020
It’s been a big summer for the world of self-sovereign identity (SSI).
COVID-19 continues to be a major catalyst for digital transformation, revealing the need for secure remote work infrastructure, touchless identity verification, and trust at a distance. Meanwhile, recent high-profile cyber-security compromises (like the one over at Twitter) leave us questioning our current authentication protocols and eager to ditch usernames and passwords once and for all.
In this newsletter, we’ll be diving into these trends, as well as covering some new SSI initiatives from iRespond and the European Union.We’re also excited to share that we’ve made Verity, our digital credential platform, free for exploration and evaluation purposes. If you haven’t already, we’d strongly encourage you to check out our new Sandbox Plan.
Our top 10 picks from July 2020
Earlier this month, we hosted our partners at Condatis for a presentation and discussion on the future of authentication and the benefits that self-sovereign identity offers over and above centralized, federated, and two-factor models.
It was a great discussion that detailed not just the potential of SSI, but how organizations are using the technology today to instantly and securely authenticate their customers and employees.
If you need more evidence of why the future of authentication is self-sovereign and passwordless, look no further than this month’s Twitter hack, where thousands of high-profile accounts were compromised (including those of Apple, Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, and Barack Obama).
It’s unclear how the accounts were compromised, but many suspect it had something to do with vulnerabilities and insider threats that were exposed through the new remote work policies, spurred by coronavirus.
Regardless of how it happened, self-sovereign identity and decentralized identifiers represent one possible solution against future compromises, as analyzed in recent CoinTrust commentary.
In addition to rising cybersecurity threats, COVID-19 has challenged us with the need for contactless identity verification.
With fears of spreading infection through public surfaces, organizations and consumers alike are turning away from fingerprint-based biometric technology, a move that ABI Research suggests will cost the industry nearly $2B this year alone. Yet, the need for trusted verification is greater than ever, and we’re seeing a rise in touchless solutions—notably, facial recognition software and portable digital credentials.
To learn more about this trend and the next generation of biometric technology, read the full story in Security Magazine.
What does it mean to own our health data, and how can this lead to expedited treatments, more personalized treatment plans, and a share of the rewards generated from our data usage?
In this illuminating Harvard Business Review article, Don and Alex Tapscott (bestselling authors of the book, Blockchain Revolution) lay out the argument for individual ownership over one’s health data, concluding:
“Each of us needs a self-sovereign and inalienable digital identity that is neither bestowed nor revocable by any central administrator and is enforceable in any context, in person and online, anywhere in the world.”
Read the full story on HBR.
5. From stateless to self-sovereignty: A project that gives life-long identity to the world’s invisibles beginning at birth
There are 1.1 billion people without an official identity. These ‘stateless’ populations, often refugees or ethnic minorities, struggle to access fundamental health and financial services.
Yet while the politics of ensuring a government-issued identity for everyone is a larger matter, the technology to issue everyone some form of portable identity is evolving. With digital credentials, often accessed through a biometric scan or held by a trusted NGO acting as a guardian, many of the world’s most vulnerable populations are now able to access essential services without sacrificing security or privacy.
We recently shared a few of these powerful stories with Biometric Update in an article examining several projects conducted by our partners at iRespond. These stories include iRespond’s work with migrant fishermen and refugee camps, as well as a new birth attestation project set to launch in western Thailand later this year. You can read more here.
In one of the most significant calls for a decentralized identity system yet, the EU Blockchain Observatory and Forum recently published a new report that summarized conclusions and reflections from a two-year research project on the state of blockchain in Europe.
Among other blockchain use cases discussed, the report highlights the importance of the work the European Blockchain Services Infrastructure (EBSI) is doing to create a European self-sovereign identity framework, commenting:
“To make blockchain’s potential a reality, governments will need to lay the right foundations. As we argue in some detail, digital identity is the fundamental building block and a key area for governments to focus on. In particular, we feel that governments should support the development of user-controlled, “self-sovereign” identity capabilities.”
The report details several applications for SSI, including allowing individuals to store and control their health records, ensuring that first responders can get quick access to a patient’s medical records, streamlining the admissions and professional credentialing of doctors, and providing students and alumni with academic credentials.
The current pandemic, and related shift toward remote work and online learning, has highlighted the need to establish trust at a distance. Even in non-COVID times, we’ve seen a steady push toward becoming an increasingly digital-first society, yet many of the ways we establish trust are still rooted in person-to-person interactions—like going into a branch of our bank or credit union to open a new account, exchanging physical ID cards, or signing paperwork in front of a legal notary.
This article explains what trust looks like in a post-COVID world and touches on many of the topics we’ve covered in this newsletter: Passwordless authentication, secure biometric signatures, and a new infrastructure for a remote and flexible workforce.
Read more on Forbes.
While it’s easy to excuse technology as inherently impartial, the reality is that nothing created by humans exists in a vacuum.
Done right, digital identity can be a case for good—society’s great equalizer. Done wrong, it can exacerbate today’s social inequalities and make minority status more apparent.
This analysis, published recently by Good ID, explores several of the unconscious biases we must all watch out for when designing digital identity systems that are fair, safe, and accessible for all. Check it out here.
In a recent Fortune column, Overstock CEO and Evernym investor, Jonathan Johnson, discussed several ways distributed ledger technology can help re-open the global economy, from remote identity verification to secure online voting.
Johnson outlines the U.S. as a potential global leader in adoption but warns that any country looking to take a position of leadership must move fast. He also warns that regulation should be redesigned to encourage and incentivize innovation, likening where we are today with blockchain technology to the early days of the Internet, when regulatory freedom led to a proliferation of creative products and services.
Read the rest of the story on Fortune.
10. Evernym featured in CB Insights’ 2020 report on emerging cybersecurity trends and high-momentum startups
In a new ‘Cyber Defenders’ report, CB Insights dug into 14 trends redefining cybersecurity in 2020 and beyond, as well as 28 startups with the potential to shape the future of the space.
The report highlights decentralized identity among its trends to watch and highlights Evernym as a featured startup.
Check it out here.
Meet the Evernym team at an upcoming event
- Virtual: Evernym Webinar: Digital Credentials for Virtual Worlds (Jul 30)
- Virtual: KuppingerCole’s Future of Digital Identity: Self-Sovereign Identity & Verifiable Credentials (Aug 6)
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