Why the Equifax Breach Should Not Have Mattered
Data security, which is concerned with the prevention of unauthorized access to computers, databases, and websites, helps protect digital privacy and ensure data integrity. It is extremely difficult, however, to make security watertight, and security breaches are not uncommon. The consequences of stolen credentials go well beyond the leakage of other types of information because they can further compromise other systems. This paper criticizes the practice of using clear-text identity attributes, such as Social Security or driver’s license numbers—which are in principle not even secret—as acceptable authentication tokens or assertions of ownership, and proposes a simple protocol that straightforwardly applies public-key cryptography to make identity claims verifiable, even when they are issued remotely via the Internet. This protocol has the potential of elevating the business practices of credit providers, rental agencies, and other service companies that have hitherto exposed consumers to the risk of identity theft, to where identity theft becomes virtually impossible.
Published in: World Congress on Internet Security (WorldCIS-2017)
- Date of Conference: 11-14 December 2017
- DOI: 10.2053/WorldCIS.2017.0022
- ISBN: 978-1-908320-81-0
- Conference Location: University of Cambridge, UK