The way that online identities are managed today cannot withstand the increasing assaults from expert criminals.

 

With financial losses from offline and online identity theft totaling $45 billion in the United States alone in 2007, and with e-commerce suffering the consequences of consumer fear of phishing and fraud, it's clear that the Internet needs a fresh approach to protecting personal information.

 

A new Microsoft white paper argues that this approach should center on the creation of a technology called an "Information Card," which makes it possible to create more powerfully secure identities.

 

Information Cards would rely on a third-party ID provider that would act as a buffer in two-party transactions.

 

The ID provider could use real-world data and sources to verify that individuals and sellers are who they say they are. This way, online buyers could remain anonymous to online sellers (or vice versa), but still have a trustworthy, authenticated ID.

 

Minimal personal information would need to change hands between buyer and seller.

 

Microsoft notes that the Information Card approach would have to be supported by individuals, companies, and governments, and would have to be bolstered by:

 

  • Consumer education
  • New technology tools
  • Responsible business practices
  • A strong legislative framework
  • Law enforcement engagement
  • Expanded victim assistance

 

For more information on this new approach, download the Online Identity Theft: Changing the Game white paper.