Ping Identity invests in blockchain vendor to create new identity standard

Everyone's number one trend, blockchain, even has a part to play in the identity world

Now, this is interesting.

Ping Identity is a well-known identity vendor. Basically, Ping handles authentication, single sign-on (SSO) and other identity-related functions that large organizations have. The company competes with vendors such as OneLogin and Okta. So, what is it doing investing in a formerly stealthy blockchain vendor?

It seems Ping sees blockchain as a potential disruptor for identity session management. It's so excited about it that it is spending some of its hard-earned cash to invest in Swirlds, a new platform that is creating the "hashgraph," a distributed consensus platform. Swirlds sees itself as solving some of the limitations that are inherent in blockchain. Swirlds contends that it delivers the three legs of the consensus stool: fairness, distributed trust and resilience to Denial of Service attacks.

+ More on Network World: What is blockchain and how does it work? +

Distributed consensus networks like blockchain have gained recognition for their potential to solve the challenges in creating trust within peer-to-peer networks. The Bitcoin system—a payments system built on blockchain technology—emerged to facilitate these transactions with this new form of distributed trust.

Blockchain’s distributed consensus algorithm can generate distributed trust, but it has many limitations. If the members of the blockchain community are untrusted, then a proof-of-work mechanism is often required to ensure the community comes to consensus. This is inefficient, it can introduce high lag time and waste resources. Further, blockchain doesn’t provide trusted timestamps or proof of receipt.

For cloud providers

For its part, Ping is working with Swirlds to launch a technology preview program consisting of Ping Identity customers and partners to create a new standard for Distributed Session Management that leverages this new approach so all cloud applications and identity providers can apply it.

When applied to identity management, the Ping DSM system built on the Swirlds hashgraph platform promises to reduce risk by giving IT organizations a “kill switch” for identity authentication in instances of employee terminations and lost or stolen devices. The standard enables global session logout for all active Single Sign-On and application sessions across both web and mobile apps, independent of the identity protocol being used. It also generates a cryptographic timestamp and proof of receipt, providing the assurance and certainty that session commands are received and when they were received.

“Ping Identity recognizes that Swirlds represents a huge technological breakthrough that could change the way distributed consensus communities function across myriad industries and use cases,” said Patrick Harding, CTO of Ping Identity. “The new identity standard we’re developing solves the major challenges that identity professionals face in conducting and verifying session logout.”

The general identity area is one that will change markedly in the future as new authentication methods and systems of trust grow to prominence. It is a smart move for Ping to pro-actively invest in this space.

Copyright © 2016 IDG Communications, Inc.

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