How is Hyperledger being used for Identity management?

We are continuously exposing our digital identity over social media platforms, e-commerce websites and banking websites. There seems to be no end to digitization, which is still expanding by multiple folds. We seem to be ignorant about the fact that digitization is also causing relentless theft of our digital identity data.

Hackers have turned our identity data into a pool of digital data that is fueling the growth of cybercrime.

Despite signing up for account alerts, placing a security freeze and securing the devices, the global fraud count is growing. The number of fraud victims recorded in 2017 was 1 million more than those in 2016. All these frauds were highly sophisticated in nature which has rendered the existing combat mechanisms incapable.

As per the Federal Track Commissions’ reports for 2017, the identity theft ranks third in the fraud category list and the credit card frauds topped the list with 133,000 reported incidents. All these imprints are our permanent digital identity which can be exploited by anyone.

Does Blockchain project Hyperledger sound like a solution?

Blockchain 1.0 offered us an immutable distributed ledger to record data in a secure manner while maintaining its transparency. As the technology matured with Smart contracts, visionaries started using it to secure identity data. Many governments are already issuing digital identifies over Blockchain to their citizens, ensuring that they are not victimized by cyber crimes.

How is this being implemented?

Government based identity management solutions are converging legacy systems and Blockchain:

A government authority will issue a token of identity over Blockchain and the hash will be recorded. Using an App, the identify holder will be able to retain a digital copy of his identity. He will also have the public key to the token hash that gives him access to his identity data.

But there is a flaw in such a system, the identity issuance still remains centralized. This is where the concept of Decentralized Identity (DID) comes into the picture. It allows an individual to maintain a self-sovereign identity.

What is a DID and how is Hyperledger using its potential?

Decentralized identity allows identity owners take the control of their identity management back in their hands.

They can take complete control and protection of their digital identity using the decentralization nature of Blockchain.

By definition, a decentralized identity (DID) is basically a specification defined by W3C (World Wide Web Consortium) that has a global document format to recognize the identity owner.

Advantages of DIDs

DIDs are the root of decentralized identity which empowers people and organizations with immutable digital identifiers that are fully under their control. This eliminates the need for a central authority or third party to maintain records.

  • Also known as self-sovereign identity, DIDs are the fundamental blocks of an ecosystem that runs on decentralized identity. It gives people, products and organizations power to own and control the digital identifiers.
  • DID architecture eliminates the requirement of centralized authorities for identity provenance. It covers the globally unique identifiers, representation of public verification keys and identifies the service endpoints.
  • DIDs are developed under W3C standards of Uniform Resource Identifiers (URIs) ensuring compatibility with the existing web technologies so that they can be used across multiple systems like banks, insurance and more.
  • DID scheme is designed in a global fashion which makes them interoperable with different kinds of Blockchains. DID infrastructure is not focused to disrupt the existing setup but plans to use existing standard libraries to work in the desired fashion.
  • DID architecture enables the entities or organization to control the privacy of their digital data. They can choose to be selective about the data sharing using dedicated DIDs for a different set of personal information.
  • The DID documents assure the highest level of security to the personal information stored in DIDs.
  • DIDs provide cryptographic proof of authentication for an entity
  • The DIDs are discoverable and can interact with each other to create secure social networks.
  • A network that supports DIDs and DID methods are able to correlate to any kind of DID.

What is stored on the ledger?

Legal identity management systems were centralized, with the advent of distributed ledger technology (DLT), the element of complete decentralized identity management was established.

Devoid of any single point of failure and centralization, the entities can create and control the identifiers known as DIDs in a trustless environment. Each DID is defined by DID Documents which are a set of service protocols.

Each distributed ledger stores a specific DID method which defines how a DID is registered, resolved, updated and revoked.

The DID methods can also be developed for centralized systems and this is how interoperability Blockchains and centralized networks are maintained.

Benefits to the users

DIDs are being used to identify a person, product or an organization. Multiple DIDs need to be established for multiple purposes like age, name, address and more unique data. A DID is just a unique identifier of each such set of data.

The practical usage is rendered to DID when certain protocols are used on top of DID. These protocols are known as DID Auth and they render real-world application to DIDs

  • DID finds its everyday use when we log on to websites. You can use the DIDs via an App or a plugin for authorized access to your website account.
  • While using e-Commerce portals, we unravel a lot of personal information. Using DID over a plugin or App, the shipping and payment details can be shared with a security layer of DID.
  • You can maintain social connects and share personal information with complete control over your personal data as DID creates an impenetrable layer over it. When we talk about complex aspects of identity like age, passport number or SNN, standardized verifiable credentials designed by W3C can be used. These are the claims that are attested by an authority for the owner of a DID.
  • Currently, the Hyperledger Indy project is being built to offer reusable components so that different DIDs can be built quickly. While the core of the project protects the decentralized digital identities, it also offers an application layer to help DID’s come out of silos and become usable to protect digital identities.