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Microsoft Entra Verified ID: Secure digital identity management

The changing digital landscape introduces a greater risk of identity theft and data concerns. In 2023, compromised credentials accounted for almost 20 percent of security breaches, making them the most common initial attack vector. Microsoft Entra Verified ID steps in with a Decentralized Identity approach to digital data, representing the next generation of identity management.

 What is decentralized identity? 

Currently, all our digital interactions, including our identities, can be accessed by third parties.Traditional identity management relies on centralized systems like Active Directory and local accounts for user verification and access control. Although widely accepted, these systems suffer from data breaches and slow verification. Decentralized identities (DIDs) offer an alternative. With DIDs, users decide what information to share and with whom, thereby speeding up verification and reducing risk of breaches.

A decentralized identity system is made up of 3 key players: a distributed ledger technology(DLT), Verifiable Credentials (VCs), and decentralized identifiers (DIDs).  A Decentralized Identifier(DID) is a globally unique identifier that contains details like the public key and verification information. A DID is anchored to a distributed ledger technology(DLT), such as blockchain. This links it to a public record, thereby establishing the authenticity of your DID. Information stored in a DLT is also immutable, making it extremely difficult, if not impossible, to alter it. Any attempt to tamper with the record of your identifier would be quickly flagged and rejected by a network of computers that constantly validate and verify information. A Verifiable Credential (VC) is a digital, cryptographically signed document issued by a trusted institution, such as the government. VCs  rely on DIDs to establish trust and ensure the information comes from a verifiable source and belongs to the right person.

 What is Microsoft Entra Verified ID? 

Imagine a digital ID card stored in your phone’s wallet app. This ID card can be issued by any trusted organization and would contain verifiable claims about you, such as your educational qualifications or employment record. This is the crux of what Microsoft Entra Verified ID is; a verifiable credentials service built on open standards.

 How does it work? 

Microsoft Entra Verified ID works on a three party system:

  1. Issuer: An organization that creates and issues verifiable credentials (VCs) based on user information.

  2. User: Receives and manages VCs in a digital wallet app.

  3. Verifier: An organization that requests and verifies VCs to grant access.

Here’s a simplified flow of the verification process:

  1. Issuance: The issuer (e.g. your company) creates a VC containing your info and digitally signs it with a secure key.

  2. Storage: You receive and store the VC in your digital wallet app(such as Microsoft Authenticator)

  3. Verification: When a verifier (e.g., a website you’re trying to access) needs to confirm your identity, they request the relevant VC from your wallet.

  4. Presentation: You approve the request to share the VC with the verifier.

  5. Validation: The verifier checks the VC’s authenticity with the issuer and verifies the information it contains.

 Benefits of Microsoft Entra Verified ID: 

There are several reasons why you might consider using Microsoft Entra Verified ID:

  • Security and Privacy: Entra Verified ID is designed to be secure. Unlike traditional methods where you share all your information, users have more control over what data they reveal.

  • Efficiency: Verified ID can streamline onboarding processes for organizations simplifying access control and self-service account recovery.

  • Convenience: Users can store their digital IDs in a mobile wallet and use them to verify their identity with any organization that supports the service. This eliminates the need to remember multiple passwords or go through lengthy verification processes.

  • Cost: Entra Verified ID is currently included with any Azure Active Directory subscription, including the free tier.It can also potentially reduce overhead costs associated with managing traditional identity verification methods

With Microsoft Entra Verified ID, individuals can manage their identities securely, and businesses can verify customer information effortlessly. As this technology matures, we can expect wider adoption across various industries. Ultimately, this will lead to a more trustworthy and privacy-conscious digital experience for everyone.

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