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Toronto’s SecureKey, IBM uses blockchain tech to secure digital identity

Toronto’s SecureKey, IBM uses blockchain tech to secure digital identity 

Of course, people already know who they are, and not a few carry with them some form of document or card to verify their identity. So why would people still need such a network to back them up and prove that they are who they say they are?

SecureKey and IBM – and a bunch of other technology and financial companies are looking into blockchain tech – believe the technological shift that has brought us to the era of the Internet of Thing make it necessary to have trusted system for verifying people’s digital identity. That’s because so much of our day-to-day activities are tied to the Internet, and by extension, our financial, legal, health and other personal information are too.

And if you’ve read this CBS 60-Minutes story which illustrates how easy it is for hackers to collect information on a person through that person’s cellphone you’ll like agree with IBM and SecureKey.

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Now, the duo is betting on blockchain, something we’ve all heard used alongside the term bitcoins, to solve this vulnerability.

Their aim is to create a highly secure, global and enterprise-ready ecosystem for sharing identity requires both advanced federated identity technology and blockchain technology specifically designed for regulated industries.

What is blockchain?

Blockchain (originally written as block chain) was first conceptualized by Satoshi Nakamoto in 2008 and used the next year as a core component of the digital currency bitcoins. Blockchain allows digital information to be distributed but not copied.

With bitcoins, blockchain serves a public ledger for bitcoin transactions. Using a peer-to-peer network and a distributed timestamping server, blockchain prevented double-spending of bitcoins.

So you can picture a blockchain as a form of an incorruptible spreadsheet. It can be copied thousands of times across a network of computers. It is continually updated and reconciled and changes are tracked.

And, very importantly, a blockchain’s existence is shared simultaneously by those in the network. It is not stored in a single location. So not only is it easily accessible and verifiable, there is no centralized location which a hacker can attack in order to corrupt the records.

The Hyperledger fabric

SecureKey has developed a digital identity and attribute sharing network using IBM’s Blockchain service which is built on top of the Linux Foundation’s open source Hyperledger Fabric v1.0.

As a permissioned blockchain, the Hyperledger Fabric is an essential component in delivering services that comply with regulations where data protection and confidentiality matter.   

“Hyperledger Fabric is by far the most advanced permissioned-blockchain technology available today, in my opinion, both in protecting user data and allowing us to work within the context of industry and country privacy laws,” said Greg Wolfond, founder, and CEO, SecureKey Technologies. “Among the many contributors to Hyperledger Fabric including SecureKey, IBM is a standout innovator that has proven that they can rapidly bring blockchain solutions to production.”

Canadian banks, including BMO, CIBC, Desjardins, RBC, Scotiabank, and TD joined the digital identity ecosystem in October 2016, investing $27M collectively in SecureKey.

The Digital ID and Authentication Council of Canada (DIACC) and the Command Control and Interoperability Center for Advanced Data Analytics (CCICADA), a research center of excellence funded by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Science & Technology Directorate, have also provided funding to bring the new approach to digital identity to market.

“Our goal for this partnership is to accelerate the pace at which we can develop a service to help consumers better manage, protect and control their digital assets and identity, and ultimately provide our customers with greater convenience and a better overall experience,” said Andrew Irvine, head of commercial banking and partnerships at BMO Bank of Montreal.          

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