andre.kesteloot at verizon.net
Fri Jan 26 15:47:05 CST 2007
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
Called Idemix for short, the software was written by researchers at
IBM's laboratory <http://www.zurich.ibm.com/security/idemix/> 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
<http://www.internetnews.com/dev-news/article.php/3608441> 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 <http://www.internetnews.com/dev-news/article.php/3589141>, 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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