Authentication and Identification

Digital networks offer people new opportunities. Taking advantage of these opportunities, however, will depend on whether we can improve our ability to authenticate identity online. Weak authentication distorts social interactions, security, and business on the Net. Without better authentication, we may forgo many opportunities, and the Net will remain a place that holds considerable risk.

We have entered a new era of online activity. Digital networks, using computers and mobile devices, offer new connections, new information, and new opportunities. The number and kinds of digital applications continues to grow and people interact digitally in ways we did not expect a decade ago. How people take advantage of these opportunities and applications, however, will depend on progress in authenticating identity online. Without better authentication of identity, we will forgo many opportunities and the internet will remain a place that holds considerable risk. Improving authentication is a daunting task.  Progress will require coordinated action by multiple public and private sector actors.  Improvements in government processes, new technologies, and new private sector initiatives can combine to supply the authentication services need to reap the full advantage of digital networks.

Below are selected CSIS reports and commentary on authentication and identity issues.  For a full list of publications related to this project, please click on the “more publications” link on the right-side panel or publications on the left side panel. 

Highlighted Works

Authentication 2.0 – New Opportunities for Online IdentificationAuthentication 2.0 – New Opportunities for Online Identification
James A. Lewis
January 2008

 

Digital networks offer people new opportunities.  Taking advantage of these new opportunities, however, will depend on whether we can improve our ability to authenticate identity online.  Weak authentication distorts interactions, security, and business on the Net.  Without better authentication, we will forgo many opportunities and the Net will remain a place that holds considerable risk. 


Much Smoke, No Fire

Much Smoke, No Fire
James A. Lewis
November 2006

If the Americans of the 19th century behaved as many Americans do today, we would still be a nation of farmers, living somewhat like the Amish with their reliance on horses and hand power.  This is because an exaggerated aversion to risk shapes discussion (from missile defense to free trade) in ways that the more confident America of the pat could not have imagined.  New technologies in particular excite this aversion, and Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) leads the pack when it comes to exaggerated concern.

Recent Publications

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 All Authentication and Identification Publications