Whether you are 19 or 91, protecting your identity is extremely important – particularly as identity breaches become more pervasive and affect more people worldwide. A recent study revealed the concerns about identity theft are high, with four out of five adults calling identity theft a concern, and about half calling it a “major” concern.*
Against this backdrop, the National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace (NSTIC) is focused on empowering individuals to better protect their security and privacy online. Protecting and controlling our digital identities allows us to live in a safer virtual realm; if we can trust the transactions we make online, we can better realize the benefits of the digital world.
A major challenge with getting individuals to start using technologies that can better protect their identity is usability: if a solution makes things more complicated and offers little visible benefit, consumers simply won’t use it. Usability becomes even more challenging when you consider all of the different types of people who might use a solution. Differences in age, background, and abilities all may impact whether someone considers a technology to be “easy to use.”
For this reason, one focus of the NSTIC pilots has been to test how different types of consumers respond to different types of identity solutions. Collectively, the NSTIC pilots have touched students, parents, patients, seniors, veterans, online shoppers, and a variety of other demographics. One of our more exciting pilots has involved the AARP.
is a nonprofit organization that helps families with life issues that are most important to them—such as retirement planning, healthcare, and employment security. As part of its mission, AARP has been exploring new ways to help its 37 million plus members aged 50 and above better protect their privacy and security with innovative methods; Jim Barnett, Senior Strategic Advisor for Digital Identity Management at AARP, explains “we want to equip our members to live their best lives.”
AARP has partnered with NSTIC pilot awardee Daon to pilot the use of Daon’s “TrustX
” mobile biometric authentication solution to enable AARP members to enroll and access their personal health records in a way that is both secure and easy to use. TrustX is a cloud-based biometric solution, which allows for simple PIN, facial, or voice biometric authentication—allowing people to choose which mode works best for them.
“The pilot has been a great platform to discuss usability and secure interoperable credentials,” Barnett says. Since the AARP user base is comprised of members with varying levels of technological expertise, the need for a streamlined user experience is of key importance. “We have to make sure that anyone that comes to us online will understand this intuitively.” Interaction with every member in a natural and simple way is AARP’s ultimate goal—and the pilot program is the perfect forum for testing this goal.
The NSTIC pilot has also been instrumental in AARP’s ability to begin to understand the type of trusted identity solutions their members need. The need for an interoperable solution that every user can understand and trust—which will ultimately contribute to a better, safer, online environment for members—is the key to success. Having a range of options for solutions is also important since consumers should be able to pick a solution that fits in best with their lifestyle.
He continues to look to the NSTIC Guiding Principles
for direction moving forward; Barnett emphasizes that they often turn to the Guiding Principles as a baseline for what an ideal identity solution needs to be when evaluating potential solutions. The progress already made as a result of the pilot program will be instrumental in creating additional conveniences and protections for AARP’s millions of members. Also, AARPs overall understanding of the solution needs of their member base has increased, and will continue to increase as we work together to make progress in the future.