What is digital identity?
A person's identity can also be proven in the digital world. These identities must be secure in order to prevent misuse and theft.
A person's identity is something that is both unique and unmistakeable. It is defined on the basis of characteristic properties, in other words, identity attributes. These can be physical features, such as a facial image or fingerprints, as well as personal data, such as name and date of birth. With an official document like the German ID card, the real person can prove that they are in fact who they claim to be.
Anyone wishing to open an account or pass a border control will have to confirm their identity so that the person in front of them knows exactly who they are. That's why today's official documents now contain individual identity attributes. Various security methods are used to protect the documents against forgery or manipulation. The printed photo also makes identification easier.
Just like in the real world, people can identify themselves in the virtual world too. If they want to transfer money or shop online, log into forums, social networks or e-mail accounts, they use various methods to authenticate themselves. Mechanisms are also used here that assign individual attributes to a specific person. One example of this is the combination of username and password where the username refers to a person who uses a password to authenticate their identity. The system assigns the correct password to the person, thus authenticating them. Digital methods like these that are used to prove a person's identity are also referred to as electronic or digital identities. Both terms can be used synonymously.
Secure digital identities protect private data
Digital identities come in many different forms. The majority of people today have a number of different digital identities that meet with various types of security requirements. These identities must be secure in order to ensure that they cannot be forged, manipulated or stolen. Once in possession of the right password or the valid card PIN, criminals can access personal data and can claim to be someone else in the digital world and act under that person's name.
The German ID card is a secure way to provide identification both in the real and in the virtual world. Users can have the online ID function activated and can then send their data in encrypted form using special software. There are also plans to have certain attributes protected by a PIN and sent to a smart phone where they can be used as a so-called derived identity for mobile applications. This will enable user authentication without an ID card.
Even objects have digital identities today. This allows them to be clearly assigned to different process steps and they can be found, for instance, in logistics or in Industry 4.0.