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Decentralized identities could give people a verifiable online life

DIDs // Illustration by Kate Walker

Decentralized identities could give people a verifiable online life


Future. Using passwords to log in to a website or bringing multiple forms of identification to renew a driver’s license may one day become a thing of the past. Instead, we will use decentralized IDs (DIDs) that are completely user-owned and portable across every platform — both physical and digital. If widely adopted, signing a form, renewing a passport, or logging into your bank account may all be accomplished via a single DID.

Me, myself, and ID
Even in the decentralized world of Web3, people still want a way to secure their real identities. Bret Arsenault, the chief information security officer at Microsoft, writes in Fast Company on how to do that.

  • He believes the future is in DIDs, made possible in a world adopting the blockchain and digital ledgers.
  • The benefit of DIDs is that they belong to the individual person, as opposed to being issued by the government, a bank, or a social media platform.
  • They are also “universally portable,” meaning they can be used for any situation that would require an ID.

Of course, Arsenault wouldn’t be touting these ideas so strongly without a bit of Microsoft muscle behind them — the tech giant already has a service called Entra that allows people to create DIDs.

Delete password
The hope is that DIDs can one day replace the dreaded password — an already-old security invention that feels disorganized and unsecure for our current digital era. Who can remember every poorly-conceived password across various platforms? And with 921 “password attacks” happening every second by criminals, the odds of getting hacked at some point are high.

Microsoft has actually joined Apple and Google in an initiative to collaborate on and adopt a common sign-in standard (that was developed by the World Wide Web Consortium and FIDO Alliance). The plan is to scale a login feature that would require a simple biometric finger, face scan, or PIN input from your phone to unlock your account on any platform on any other device.

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