Federated identity is key

Dave Passmore, research director at the Burton Group, says that federation is critical to data security.

Dave Passmore, research director at the Burton Group, says that federation is critical to data security.

"We're going to see more social groups where companies get employees and customers to interact in a peer-to-peer fashion. There will be a lot more socialization via the Internet," he says.

For social networking to succeed, there will have to be an increased focus on identity management, Passmore says. "We still don't have a good way of identifying individuals on the Internet," he says.

"This can't just be authentication; it has to be some authority that can vouch for you in a scalable way. Today, every time you join a group, you have to enter a ton of user data," he says.

Passmore says authority, coupled with a concept called "federation," could ease security fears.

"Federation allows you to carry your credibility from one site to another," he says.

For instance, a user could develop a solid reputation on eBay and carry that over to another site without having to reestablish his identity.

"This doesn't mean that anonymous participation goes away, but for the activities where you need to know that there's a live human being on the Web, there will be a system in place to protect you," he says.


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