It is time to get this site going about more than just my ‘idle’ mumblings and out of date running updates. There is a topic of conversation that my career has revolved around like a satellite around a planet. It is the story of online identities and their use and misuse.
For me this has appeared in projects where two ISP businesses have brought their customers under one organisation and these customers do not have unique username to identify them selves to the new ISP. What! Two “Fred”s! Will the real “Fred” please step forward? Hmm, if only it was that simple. In the late ’90 when ISP’s and online portals were coming together this happened time and again, and it was always messy.
At around the same time the ‘kiddies’ got their hands on software that would allow them to steal passwords from customers in the school holidays. So now usernames and passwords are under siege. A single stolen password could be reused by the baddies over and over again without recourse.
Then spam came along and polluted the one personal identifier that the whole internet had agreed from the outset would be unique. Bugga. Stopping spam and protecting mailboxes became another major project. Without a way of identifying who the hell sent the spam in the first place, or even being sure who sent what looks like the good email, then all manner of arcane solutions had to be employed.
By now the ‘kiddies’ have grown up and are selling their password stealing skills to the spammers who are selling their spam networks to real criminals, who don’t want you email. They want your bank account. Enter the rise and rise of ‘phishing’.
So now I am looking at ways of improving on the humble static password. When was the last time you changed yours? Are you sure nobody else knows it?
All of these things tie right back to ‘identity’ (as the industry insists on calling it). Who am I? Who are you? And how do we prove it to each other in such a way that it doesn’t get in the way of what we were trying to do in the first place.
I want to talk about this here because there is a lot in this idle mind that I need to get out. I know this stuff and I hear some of the biggest names in many different industries grappling with the same problems and, in my opinion, in quite misdirected ways. This surge of blog energy was inspired by an interview with Kim Cameron on Microsoft’s Channel 9. I get frustrated because i believe that they are trying to solve the wrong problem, and as a result won’t get the outcome they are seeking.