Are digital identities the best bet against cyberattacks?

When it comes to verifying identity on digital applications, passwords are the most common method. But what if cities want to ensure that the citizens accessing their apps are actually who they say they are? Welcome to the world of digital identity, a way to ensure identification isn’t being forged. This spring, the tiny town of Zug in Switzerland may be the first to offer citizens a digital identity with a blockchain technology-based app. Let’s take a look at the benefits this “digital passport” could offer citizens while strengthening Zug’s security measures and saving money in the long run.


Blockchain-based identity

According to Cybersecurity Ventures’ Official 2017 Annual Cybercrime Report, the amount of cybercrime damage will double by 2021, costing the world about $6 trillion annually, up from $3 trillion in 2015. One solution to preventing cybercrimes is blockchain-based identity, which Forbes calls a “self-sovereign ID, a form of identification that is unalterable and almost completely secure and could change the way individuals use and access their identities and sensitive data online.”

This is one decision that citizens of Zug will e-vote on in spring. Zug, Switzerland’s Crypto Valley, is home to as many companies as it has citizens (27,000, for the record); trades 3 percent of the world’s petrol; and just so happens to be where Ethereum, the largest blockchain 2.0 in the world, is based. The government-supported Crypto Valley Association, headquartered in Zug, aims to play on the country’s strengths by building the world’s leading blockchain and cryptographic ecosystem, developing digital technologies in the process that can be used across Switzerland, as well as the globe.

While these solutions haven’t been successful in the past, Zug hopes to change this with the help of partners like SuisseID. Citizens would register their identity straight on the app, which when then be verified by the town. This digital ID would act as a single electronic passport of sorts, where citizens could securely access apps and e-services to pay fees, online vote and offer proof of residency.

According to Rouven Heck, product lead digital identity at ConsenSys, one of the partners in the project: This solution offers tremendous added value in security, as private data remains under the full control of individuals while providing a much more seamless use of digital services.”

Not only will this form of identity strengthen the relationship between a city and its citizens, it will put the power of digital services—and the digitalization of the town—back in the hands of inhabitants in the most secure way possible, perhaps even leading to the overarching goal of a global self-sovereign identity system.