Digital identity represents a person or entity in cyberspace. Identity basically determines who a person is. Identity is a combination of attributes, beliefs, personal or organizational backgrounds, and behaviors that, when combined, can provide a comprehensive definition of the individual. In other words, identity is a representation of an entity in the form of one or more attributes that allow that entity to be fairly distinct in a context or domain. Identity is a vital element for any individual as an entity, because it defines who the person is and expresses their main characteristics.

A digital identity is the digital representation of an entity that has sufficient details to distinguish that entity in a digital context. As a set of attributes of entity in the digital realm, digital identity is as important as the concept of identity in the physical world; it is because in addition to preserving the intrinsic features that make identity a determining factor, this type of identity acts as an empowering factor for governments in achieving social inclusion, digital transformation, improving the quality of services, and so forth. There is currently no standard definition of digital identity. The World Bank, the World Economic Forum, NIST, and other organizations have different descriptions of the concept.

Different entities with identity

Identity is portrayed using one or more attributes. An attribute is defined as a specific data item related to a person or entity. Attributes can be considered as building blocks of identity. Attributes can be divided into such categories as birth-related information (name, date of birth, place of birth, etc.), descriptive information (height, weight, physical characteristics, etc.), personal identifiers (national number, social security number, etc.), and biometric data (fingerprints, DNA, corneal scans, etc.). Digital identities include all the elements involved in the process of identifying an individual in a system. Every identity depends on the entity of its origin in the real or cyber world. Entities generally fall into seven general categories, which are further elaborated as follows.

  • An individual including natural personality (ordinary, special, political representation) and legal personality (organizations, companies, educational centers, etc.)
  • Group (parties, conferences, families, tribes and tourism)
  • Areas and places
  • Project and plan
  • Services (online services including services provided to non-Iranian citizens)
  • Content (data and information related to entities)
  • Objects (ships, wearables, surveillance equipment, etc.)

Advantages of Digital Identity

Identity acts as a prerequisite for community participation by facilitating access to welfare services, health care, education, finance, and government services. The digital transformation and the high number of transactions performed in online environments have created a basic need for digital identity. Having been based on verified personal information, digital identity can be defined as a set of attributes such as name, date of birth and, gender that are digitally recorded and stored.

Digital identities are usually linked to credentials attached to a unique identifier to identify the person and facilitate transactions in the digital world. In the near future, key identity features may be complemented by additional documents and features from all aspects of life, namely, social security numbers, health care records, educational certifications, etc., and accelerate digital transformation. Identity management in cyberspace requires the use of identity and access management systems.

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