Identity for Sale

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I’m presenting in a few weeks at the 4th Cloud Security Alliance congress  in Orlando, on the subject of Social Identity and Cloud. Specifically I’ll be talking about the emerging role of Social Identity as part of the wider trend of BYOI, or “bring your own identity” (which is very different from the alternate “Bring your own intoxicant” even though it’s a lot less popular at parties.)

It’s important to discuss BYOI and Social Identity because they reflect a much larger change that’s occurring in the world of Identity. This change is something I’ve written about plenty of times before, most recently discussing the security implications of identity in a world in which so many devices are connected and communicating at once.

In a world in which almost everything we touch is connected and communicating, the key to safe and security interaction will be to keep a tight grip on our identity information. "Who I am" can be difficult to prove, but our identity will be the passport, the compass, and the guidebook, to live in the new world of the “Internet of Everything”.  Yet it seems we are losing control of even that.

A recent report suggests that stolen identity information is now so common place that its monetary value is declining rapidly. In fact, the price of “Fullz” (such information as your name, social security number, bank account details, etc.) can go for as little as $25 per person. (Stolen credit cards, by comparison, are now sub-$5.)

The price of personal identity has fallen by around a third in the last couple of years, and if that means either there are less people buying, which seems unlikely, or such an abundance of product that price pressure is downward. And that’s just plain depressing.

We’re heading into a future in which our digital identity will define us to a degree that our real, flesh-and-blood identity cannot. A world in which our online identity is the key to our interaction with banks, governments, employers, friends and family.

And at the very time when we are talking about “bring your own identity” it now seems clear that, while I might want to bring my own, someone else may already have it and be selling it. Cheap.

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