You know a conference audience is thoroughly enthralled when they skip happy hour to keep chatting to the speaker.
That was Anonyome Labs’ Chief Architect Steve McCown’s experience when he presented at the New Mexico Technology Council’s (NMTC) Experience IT Conference in September. He was the speaker for whom the gathered audience forewent an end-of-day drink (an unlikely scenario at any conference!). And it’s no wonder they did: Steve is an interesting and engaging speaker at the best of times, but at the NMTC event, he was presenting on one of the hottest topics of our time: the new cryptographic identity paradigm known as decentralized identity.
Steve told the conference audience that data breaches disclosing sensitive medical, financial, and personal data have become a ‘cost of doing business’ on today’s internet. “Hackers are challenging traditional centralized identity and access management systems and exploiting compromised credentials as a leading initial attack vector. While privacy laws and fines are necessary, they are also post-breach actions made in hopes of spurring security innovation,” he said.
Steve explained that the new cryptographic identity paradigm known as decentralized identity (DI or self-sovereign identity) exchanges centralized architectures for a modern decentralized ecosystem.
“In the DI paradigm, identity is established using cryptographically generated decentralized identifiers (DIDs), which can be either private or anchored in online immutable storage (e.g., blockchains). DIDs enable parties to communicate using an encrypted messaging protocol called DIDComm, which protects messages independent of any service or transport provider.
“DI also introduces a verifiable credentials (VC) capability whereby VCs are issued to DID owners who can assert them to verifiers using privacy-preserving zero knowledge proofs, which enable instant verification of authorization, access, and revocation status,” Steve said.
Steve explained the key innovation behind DI is that every connection is a unique cryptographic relationship, which overcomes the problems associated with contemporary credential usage and authentication methods. Along with other advancements, this helps users stop reusing passwords.
“While many of today’s attacks exploit compromised credentials, the decentralized identity paradigm protects access and communication through a new application of strong cryptographic methods,” he said.
The NMTC Experience IT conference program focused on leading trends; forward-thinking, cutting-edge IT solutions; key consumer insights; and solution roadmaps encompassing the theme of Resilience and Reinvention. A range of experts shared best practices around how these technologies are changing how we do business, the economy, and our lives as a whole.