We See Decentralized Identity in Our Future

Identity and access management is always changing. And as our personal and professional lives become increasingly connected, the risk of data breaches and privacy infringement is always growing. It’s why many regulators, organizations, and individuals are turning their attention to decentralized identity, an approach that gives people more control over their personal information. In fact, Gartner predicts that decentralized identity will be the standard by 2024.

With that in mind, we’re exploring what decentralized identity is, how it benefits businesses, workforces, and consumers, and what Okta is doing to prepare for the next chapter of identity and access management.

What is decentralized identity?

Decentralized identity gives individuals control over which data they share with organizations and allows them to revoke access to that information whenever they desire. This can be done by using digital wallets, which store identity and credential information from certified issuers (e.g., governments and employers).

Broadly speaking, decentralized identity makes it easier for people to access the services they need by giving users encrypted identifiers, which can then be verified by multiple service providers. Obtaining identity documents can often be hindered by factors like bureaucracy, displacement, access to education, or poverty—but an online, blockchain-based system can help people easily build their digital identity, access essential services, and bridge the digital divide.

Who needs decentralized identity?

Decentralized identity offers significant benefits for individuals and organizations. First and foremost, it enables all users to access the essential services they need and to retain control of their personal information. The system provides a secure repository for people to store their credentials. It’s secure by design, giving everyone peace of mind that their personal information is safe and that they’re at less risk of identity fraud.

For organizations, decentralized identity reduces the risk of information misuse,  minimizes the risk of account takeovers, and simplifies compliance requirements. This is a major benefit, as failing to comply with increasingly complex data privacy regulations can lead to significant fines and penalties. With decentralized ID, organizations can also verify identities with less information from users and customers—which ultimately creates a greater sense of trust and transparency between all parties.
How to harness the potential of decentralized identity
In addition to the above, decentralized identity opens up a variety of avenues for organizations, including:

  • Passwordless opportunities: Decentralized identity enables organizations to go fully passwordless by connecting to federated identity infrastructures. This ensures a user’s wallet contains digital credentials, which identity providers can quickly verify with single sign-on.
  • Credential storing opportunities: Most digital wallets enable users to store credit card data and purchase receipts, but that’s now expanding to include credentials like passports, drivers’ licenses, and health insurance information. Better yet, this can all be confirmed through recovery devices and custodians.
  • Login opportunities: Many social media platforms already utilize federated identity systems that enable simple logins to connected applications. As decentralized identity evolves, there are significant opportunities to develop a proof of concept for organizations in finance, healthcare, government, and many other industries.

What decentralized identity looks like in practice

Healthcare providers are increasingly embracing new technologies that enhance patient care and monitoring, including decentralized ID, to provide seamless interactions between patients and medical experts.

In terms of providing easier access to care, a person’s digital wallet can use their device’s GPS to recognize when they enter a doctor’s office and prompt them to check-in or register using biometric authentication. A decentralized identity system also makes it easier for individuals to securely share medical information with other healthcare professionals such as pharmacists. If a patient has an allergic reaction to a medication, for instance, doctors can be notified immediately to suggest an alternative. This type of granular access control is a massive benefit for end-users.

Putting identity back into users’ hands

At Okta, we’re always thinking about what’s next for identity and access management—and that means decentralized ID is part of our future. Watch this video to learn more about our identity vision and the solutions we’re developing to safely store personal information, bind devices to particular users, and effectively manage data relationships.