Understanding electronic identification
Human beings are capable of incredible feats, but there are some areas in which technology supersedes our capacities. Automated verification systems, or electronic identification, can conduct multiple verification processes simultaneously, securely, and without the risk of manual error. There are various factors that e-ID systems take into accounts, such as cross-document information consistency, any indications of forgery, and verifiable characteristics such as watermarks.
As higher-risk services become available digitally there is a great demand for secure electronic IDs. Banks, for example, must provide assurance of data security and meet legal requirements in these areas. In an ideal world, electronic identifiers must be person-specific to the point that they are near-impossible to replicate. Traditional schemes such as password protection can no longer uphold the standard as the internet becomes more deep-seated in our lifestyles.
The use and implementation of e-IDs
The European Union denotes personal data as “any information related to a natural person or ‘subject’ that can be used to directly or indirectly identify the person”. For example, this data can include the individual’s name and social security number. It is also possible to measure individual characteristics: biological features such as retina scans or other biometric data.
The way in which identity is verified is known as the authentication factor. Evidently, authentication factors are not always equal in strength, and it is possible to combine factors. Knowledge factors are those which are based on something the individual ‘knows’, like a PIN code, while possession factors are something that one ‘has’, like a key card. The most secure factors are inherence and behavior: biometric authentication and behavioral patterns, like typing patterns. Behavior authentication does not yet have many practical applications, but there are solutions in development.
How do we use and benefit from e-IDs?
Many countries require citizens to file tax forms on paper, which is a process that takes several days, whereas e-ID credentials would allow for a much faster process online. Not only is time saved, but so are resources. Finland and Norway, for example, have e-taxation systems that allow citizens to handle their taxes online. You can log in through your banking service, after which your name and personal identification number are displayed for confirmation before you are transferred to the system.
Electronic verification also facilitates access to medical data and similar information, such as prescriptions and appointments. Citizens can book doctor’s appointments online, reducing congestion on a clinic and hospital phone lines. How about another option when it comes to voting? E-ID can reduce the need for paper ballots, once again sparing resources.
The COVID-19 pandemic has shown that we need to be prepared for new ways of operating and shown the importance of the internet in our social and economic functionality. E-education requires electronic identification systems so that students and teachers can securely access information on various platforms. Remote learning has proved an acceptable means of facilitating education for students globally in the 21st century, wherein student progress is saved digitally.