INTRODUCTION: Identities Are Critical To Our Digital Life

The proliferation of wireless networks combined with the rapid advancement in mobile device technology has radically transformed our world in ways even science fiction could never have imagined. As much as the computing age transformed the business world, and to a lesser extent society as a whole, mobile computing is having a far greater, and far reaching impact. From the third world to teenagers with smartphones, mobile devices are everywhere and are transforming everything we do.

The core concept of security in the enterprise, as well as elsewhere in society, is identity. Are you who you say you are and do you have a right to be here? When it comes to verifying identity in order to gain access to a physical location or digital account, the technology used 15 to 20 years ago is, by and large, what is still in place today. Usernames and passwords are universally used for online logins, and keycards are what most employees turn to in order to access their workspace.

There are other authentication schemes out there, including hardware tokens, grid cards, challenge questions and device fingerprinting which have been used regularly in enterprise settings.

These technologies are adequate in certain use cases but they increasingly become harder for users to manage and easier to circumvent by criminals. For the most part, however, passwords and keycards (or other forms of physical keys) are what we all use to access both personal and work information and locations.

It's not to say that these technologies don't add a measure of safety, but they leave something to be desired. After a while, even the best authentication schemes lose their effectiveness.

Identity underpins our personal life, our work life, and is a core part of how we interact with society. We have no shortage of identity markers, whether it's a government issued ID, website log-in, or access key card. But are we reaching a point of identity overload?

Instead of just relying on dated measures, organizations can make their authentication practices more robust by incorporating mobile devices into the mix. When smartphones (and maybe one day wearable devices) become a critical part of the equation, enterprises will find themselves one step closer to having truly trusted identities, while better guaranteeing physical and digital security across the board.

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