Critical Read

Death of the password? Not just yet.

WHAT: "Washington is Finally Jumping on the Government ID Bandwagon," a brief from Forrester Research.

WHY: It's not technology or security that will slow the government's adoption of digital authentication systems -- it's public perception. There is still a considerable amount of skepticism about digital identity verification, according to Forrester.

In September, the National Institute of Standards and Technology announced that it would launch a national digital identity platform called as part of the National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace. The platform will allow individuals to vet their identities via an approved set of trusted providers, including Equifax, Google, LexisNexis, PayPal and Verizon.

Some government websites already allow people to authenticate themselves online via certain identity providers, most notably the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Internal Revenue Service. With, people will need to remember only one user ID and password for all their online interactions with the government, the Forrester brief states.

VA and a few other unnamed agencies will be the first to test the system; another wave of agencies will follow in two years.

For the most part, this type of authentication is secure, the brief states. And identity providers can use security measures such as risk-based and two-factor authentication to protect themselves from cyberattacks, fraud and identity theft.

Forrester said the biggest obstacles to adoption would be a lengthy, piecemeal implementation process that discourages public trust; unclear liability; poor public perception of the privacy of personal information; and no clear business model for the government to follow.

VERBATIM: "A governmentwide single sign-on will save citizens the time and frustration of juggling different login information for each agency. That means happier customers and an important step toward meeting the administration's customer service cross-agency priority goal of making it 'faster and easier for individuals and businesses to complete transactions with government online.'"

FULL REPORT: Click here to read the full report.

About the Author

Colby Hochmuth is a former staff writer for FCW.


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