More secure, less complicated: Say hello to the new breed of online ID

SecureIdentity is one of the new breed of online ID services, but what makes it different from what’s gone before?

Think about it for a minute. You bank online regularly and you already have secure login details that keep you safe when you do that. You also have a credit card or two that you regularly check online. Then there’s the Amazon and the ebay account plus maybe some supermarket shopping accounts, utility suppliers and all the rest.

Most of the time, these things work pretty well. You sign in, do what you need to do then get out. But what happens when things don’t go exactly to plan?

Most of us, at one time or another, have had to work through an issue with an online service provider. Maybe we want to change a direct debit, or check a delivery address. When we try to make these sort of changes online, the service provider obviously wants to make sure that we are who we say we are.

So far, there hasn’t been one simple way for us to prove who we are online, service providers have just sort of made it up as they went along.

Take your bank, for instance. Just a few years ago, if you needed to sort something out with your account the bank would probably be satisfied that you were who you said you were after asking two or three security questions. The first question was usually something like: “What’s the third and fifth letter of your password?”. Usually that was followed by a few questions you’d set up yourself previously, like “What’s your mother’s maiden name, memorable address, favourite football team?” or whatever.

But these security processes didn’t satisfy the banks for long. Pretty soon they started to ask us to create more sophisticated (much less memorable) passwords. Then they started issuing us with dongles that served up new security numbers every 30 seconds or card readers than needed smart cards and pin numbers.

Over the years, the business of proving who we are online has become pretty complex. Every new security enhancement that comes along makes proving who we are online more difficult. SecureIdentity is part of the new generation of security designed to solve this. It fuses advanced security with super simplicity. Think of it like a passport that lets you prove who you are online.

Imagine you left for a holiday abroad without packing your passport. You’d expect to have a pretty hard time getting out of the UK and into the country you wanted to visit right? Sure, there’s a chance that you’d be able answer a great number of questions and eventually the border control guards might be satisfied that you were who you said you were, but your passport makes that whole process easy.

SecureIdentity works like a passport on the internet. Soon you’ll be able to use it in lots of places whenever you need to prove that you who you say you are. It’s hard to imagine all the benefits that will bring today, because the idea is new and GOV.UK Verify is the first, and currently the only, place you can use SecureIdentity.

But in the months to come, more and more sites will start offering you the opportunity to verify you identity simply and securely using the secure identity you use to access government services at GOV.UK.

It’s smart, simple, and straightforward, and it’s the shape of things to come.