Explainer: Mobile ID

May 11, 2015 - 

Mobile identity, otherwise referred to as Mobile ID solutions, deliver authentication and authorization for mobile applications and services. Mobile ID works to securely extend identity services and policies to mobile devices through authentication, policy enforcement, and single sign-on between applications.

Typically, Mobile ID uses online authentication and digital signatures, vis-a-vis the SIM card of a mobile device as an identity tool. A subscriber identity module, or SIM card, is an integrated circuit issued by a service provider that securely stores a user’s international mobile subscriber identity (IMSI) and the related key used to identify and authenticate a subscriber on mobile telephony devices, such as mobile phones or tablets.

Traditional Mobile ID enables legally binding authentication and transaction signing for online banking, payment confirmation, corporate services, and consuming online content. A user’s certificates are maintained on the telecom operator’s SIM card and in order to use them, the user has to enter a personal, secret PIN code. When using mobile identity, no separate card reader is needed, as the phone itself already performs both functions.

Mobile service provider and financial institutions obviously have an inherent interest in setting up mobile signature service infrastructure using SIM-based Mobile ID to offer identity services. These stakeholders usually have a large customer base that could leverage the use of mobile signatures across several applications.

In contrast to other approaches, a mobile device in conjunction with a mobile signature-enabled SIM card aims to offers the same security and ease of use as smart card dependent digital identity management systems. Smart card-based digital identities can only used in conjunction with a card reader and a computer. With the advent of Mobile ID solutions on mobile computing platforms however, the logistical inefficiency surrounding smart cards and SIM cards can be avoided.

New Mobile ID have evolved to integrate with mobile operating systems or to operate as independent “apps” on such systems. OS-based Mobile ID systems typically determine a system for controlling data about users on mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets.

Such data normally includes information that authenticates the identity of a user, and information that describes information and actions they are authorized to access or perform. Mobile ID also includes the management of descriptive information about the user and how and by whom that information can be accessed and modified. Managed components typically include users, hardware and network resources and even applications.

Newer Mobile ID solutions also work to provide a trusted and independent mobile workspace for enterprise applications, e-mail, and data. With a customized Mobile ID solution, businesses can securely extend all identity services and policies of enterprise users to personal mobile devices. Such mobile identity systems enables businesses to efficiently comply with regulatory requirements, secure critical applications and sensitive data, and lower operational costs. These solutions also work to simplify the provisioning of users, applications, identities, and devices.

These newer, OS-based Mobile ID solutions typically offer a security platform that provides a stronger, multi-authentication option to passwords or passcodes. Often, these newer forms of OS-based Mobile ID leverage biometric solutions that are included in mobile devices, such as fingerprint sensors, for purposes of user authentication.

Newer Mobile ID solutions can also deliver centralized management for auditing and enforcement, reducing the cost of complex mobile environments. The are developed by software developers, can be operated independently by enterprise, and stand as a contrasted option to SIM-based solutions offered by service providers and banks.

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About Stephen Mayhew

Stephen Mayhew is the publisher and co-founder of Biometrics Research Group, Inc.. His experience includes a mix of entrepreneurship, brand development and publishing. Stephen attended Carleton University and lives in Toronto, Canada. Connect with Stephen on LinkindIn.