IBM Anonymizer

Andre Kesteloot andre.kesteloot at
Fri Jan 26 15:47:05 CST 2007

Anonymous IBM*
By Clint Boulton 
January 26, 2007

Anonymizers have built up a strong following due to a flurry of 
identity-theft cases that have plagued the industry. IBM's Tivoli group 
is throwing its hat into the anonymizer ring.

Identity Mixer is a piece of software that allows people to hide their 
personal information on the Web to protect them from ID theft and other 
foul play.

Called Idemix for short, the software was written by researchers at 
IBM's laboratory <> in Zurich, 
Switzerland, to let consumers purchase products and services online 
while keeping their personal information safe.

When consumers enter personal details in an e-commerce storefront in 
exchange for a product or service, they leave behind a data footprint 
revealing the size, frequency and source of their online purchases.

Idemix uses artificial identity information, known as pseudonyms, to 
eliminate the digital tracks, making online transactions anonymous so 
real identity information can never be intercepted or exposed. 
Specifically, the software lets people make purchases without revealing 
their credit card numbers, or their home addresses.

Idemix users get an anonymous digital credential, or voucher, from a 
trusted third party, such as a bank. The bank provides a credential that 
includes a credit card number and expiration date.

When an online purchase is made, the Idemix software digitally seals the 
information by transforming the credential so the user can send it to 
the online vendor. A new encrypted credential is used for subsequent 

The announcement comes ahead of the RSA Conference in San Francisco 
where companies such as Microsoft will announce their own security plans.

Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates and other officials are expected to 
discuss the company's CardSpace 
<> ID management 
software and other security products during a keynote on Feb. 6.

IBM said Idemix will form a new privacy layer for the Eclipse Higgins 
project <>, an 
open source movement to create ID management software and an alternative 
to Microsoft's CardSpace.

Nataraj Nagaratnam, chief architect of identity management for IBM 
Tivoli, said Idemix could make the Higgins software a more palatable, if 
not potent alternative to CardSpace because it puts the control of 
personal information into the hands of the users instead of the 
organizations' the user is conducting business with.

The "do-it-yourself" privacy represents a reversal of current trends, 
where banks, e-commerce shops and other companies are responsible for 
masking their customers' identity.

But savvy Web users, as evidenced by the growing number of Web breaches 
in the last few years, are easily able to break through a business or 
service provider's computer defenses.

IBM believes Idemix's user-centric approach will ultimately provide more 
reliable security for consumers; individuals can control who has access 
to their online personal information, rather than having companies 
manage that information as they do today.

When Idemix is ready, IBM plans to add the software to the federated 
identity management software in its Tivoli line.

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