IBM has donated its “Identity Mixer” software to the Higgins open-source project in a move that could help make Internet business transactions safer for all.
The software allows an individual to provide encrypted digital credentials issued by trusted organisations such as banks when making an online transaction, instead of giving credit card or other details in plain text.
The system effectively creates a pseudonym which an individual gives to an online store when they wish to make a purchase, thereby maintaining the security of their personal details. The store is never in possession of a buyer’s real credit card details.
The store then has to pass the credentials on to the credit card issuer for verification in order for the credit card issuer to authorise payment to the retailer.
The encrypted credentials would only work on one occasion - each transaction would require a new credential.
The technology could help to restore trust in Internet shopping and banking, which has been eroded by security threats and breaches.
The Higgins open-source project, which is backed by IBM and Novell, aims to give people more control of their personal data when doing business online. It also aims to make the multiple authentication systems on the Net work together, so that it is easier for individuals to manage Internet logins and passwords. The project is still under development.