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What is Identity Proofing and Why is it Necessary?

What is Identity Proofing and Why is it Necessary?

Identity proofing isn’t an alien concept. We have provided proof of our identity many times- at universities, workspaces, events, etc. Similarly, in cyberspace where each of us has access to multiple applications and given how cyberattacks are almost a daily occurrence, there is an innate need to verify our identity every time we want to access an application.

What is Identity Proofing?

Fundamentally, Identity Proofing, also known as Identity Verification, certifies the user who requests for access and prevents unauthorized access, saving the organization from massive data breaches that cause financial losses and damage to goodwill; this process extends to every online user- a customer, an employee, a client, etc.

Let’s go granular about Identity Proofing by addressing 2 main questions:

What are the kinds of Identity Proofing?

Knowledge-based authentication (KBA)- This is a rather popular method of identity verification that most of us opt for. The answer is factual and true to the knowledge of the user only. For instance, we choose challenge-repose questions such as “what is the name of your middle school” or “what is your maiden name” typically as a part of the Multi-Factor Authentication.

Out of the band authentication (OOB)- This method is one level stringent as compared to KBA. Out of the band authentication taps on two different channels or networks for verification. OOB is akin to two-factor verification. For instance, after a user enters a password to his/her system (a primary channel), he/she will receive an OTP on his/her mobile device (a secondary channel) to confirm the identity. This way, even if the attacker has access to one channel, the system password, the second channel-OTP will create a security barrier.

So, now the question is- which out of the two is an ideal method of Identity Proofing? Well, this depends on the security requirements of the organization. For instance, a well-known user and a regular customer of the business, trying to access a critical system may need only KBA. However, a user who is new to transacting with the business may need OOBA to access any system.

Either of the Identity Proofing methods needs gathering and validating relevant information against a populated database to establish whether the user is indeed the one who he is claiming to be.

What are the requirements for Identity Proofing?

Identity Documents: documents such as driver’s license, passbook issued by a recognized bank, health insurance card, address proof, etc. are considered valid and relevant. They contain all the information of a user that is authentic and can be validated at any time.

Biometrics: This is one of the best and the most common way to collect a user’s information. Fingerprint, Face ID, voice, etc. is registered on the biometric system and is recorded in a database. A user’s information can never be forged or duplicated with biometrics, which is how the information is highly accurate and easy to validate.

Personal information: nitty-gritty details of the user such as name, date of birth, social security number, phone number, etc. Understanding whether the user really knows his personal information is a crucial giveaway about the identity of the user.

Therefore, Identity Proofing is rather simple but extremely effective in upgrading the security system of an organization. So, let’s understand other significant advantages of Identity Proofing.

Benefits of Identity Proofing

Mitigating identity theft: during February 2019, 100 million records at Evite were breached as an unauthorized party acquired an inactive data storage and exposed the name, e-mails, and IP addresses of Evite customers. Therefore, Identity Proofing stops a possible data breach at the source. A user gets access only when his identity is established, barring unauthorized users from accessing critical systems or records.

Strengthens brand value: Given how cyberattacks affect an organization in terms of finance, reputation, and, most importantly, customer experience, anyone who wishes to transact with the business certainly looks at how cyber resilient the organization is. Identity Proofing prevents threat actors from acquiring important records, keeping the organization cyberthreat-proof, and establishes it as a well-known brand that cares for its customer’s security, providing a seamless customer experience.

Better operational efficiency: the popular adage, “prevention is better than cure” fits in well here.
The after-effects of cyberattacks are daunting to deal with, and it also decreases the organization’s operational efficiency. So, with Identity Proofing, unauthorized access is prevented invariably, and the incidences of cyberattacks fall drastically-when this happens, the organization can focus on building better security systems rather than being involved in rectifying the damages caused by cyberattacks all the time.

Finally, we may not realize but a simple process of verifying every identity, every time a user requests for access goes a long way in keeping an organization safe from cybercriminals who are always on the look for one small mistake in the authentication process.

Therefore, let’s always keep “A stitch in time, saves nine” and make Identity Proofing an inevitable process of the organization to enjoy a secure and protected infrastructure at all times.

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