Last week, banks in Canada announced the launch of Verified.Me, a free app that helps you prove your identity online.
Because practically every online service requires a different username and password, it can be tough to prove who you are when you’re logging into your various accounts. Not only do you need to remember dozens of these credentials, but you often need to answer security questions, show physical identification — and it’s all getting too complicated.
Security AND speed
The goal of the app is to speed up the process of authentication while maintaining security and privacy. Logging into accounts and juggling passwords and identities is a pain, and people tend to sacrifice security in favour of convenience. Verified.Me aims to provide both.
This kind of service is already used by federal agencies like Canada Revenue Agency where you can log into your personal or business tax account through your bank, also known as a “sign-in partner.”
How does Verified.Me work?
Think of any online service that requires you to create a username and password; instead, you log into your bank account only, through the Verified.Me app. If the bank deems that particular service to be trustworthy, you can log in automatically.
You’ve already proven your identity at the bank; it’s the most important — and most tedious — step when opening your account. There are strict regulations in place, you need to show government-issued I.D. and open a real account as the real you. Of all the online entities, banks truly know who you are as a person.
One identity to rule them all
The idea of a “federated identity” — a way of linking your identity and attributes, stored across multiple identity management systems — is coming up more and more these days, as identity becomes increasingly complex.
“Single sign-on" (SSO) lets users log in to one service with a single ID and password to gain access to several sites and accounts. SSO is a good idea that has been mismanaged in the past by Google and Facebook and others — companies that have shown they can’t be trusted to manage and secure our digital identities.
Facebook’s SSO was hacked in 2018, when it was revealed that it had fallen victim to an attack that breached 50 million user accounts. Google’s SSO has issues, too — if someone breaches your Google account, for example, they then have access to your passport information in Expedia, private messages on Tinder, location data on Uber — literally any site or service you access through the Google single sign-on.
Why trust the banks?
Banks spend more on cybersecurity than any other organization in the country. They’re dealing with huge amounts of money so it makes sense that they have a vested interest in verifying their customers' identity and protecting against fraud.
Unlike Facebook or Google, their entire business relies on being secure.
How to get started
Download the Verified.Me app on your phone, open it and choose your bank from the list of options (Scotiabank, RBC, CIBC, TD or Desjardins). You’ll then be redirected to your bank’s app or website, where you can log in using your username or card number and password. Once you’re in, you can add “Connections” to your personal list and use the app to log into all those services.
You’re in control of how and when your personal information is used, and no personal info is stored in the app — it's a win from all angles!
To learn more about protecting your identity at home or at work, contact the Beauceron Security Team @ firstname.lastname@example.org or 1-877-516-9245.