In five years your personal online security could protect your identity

by Ron on December 23, 2013

Lock on top of security as symbol of computer security.Imagine it’s 2018 and you don’t have to enter a password. That’s just so 2013. Instead you have a security profile, which lists your tendencies and when you behave outside those tendencies, your online security profile recognizes that and takes action.

Let’s say for example, you rarely buy anything from iTunes, but your credit card triggers a report that you’re buying an iTunes gift card at 3 am. That might seem suspicious and your online security profile could trigger an alert just as some banks do now when you have suspicious activity on your credit card –but it could be for any number of activities. If everyone has a unique profile, sort of like an online fingerprint, then it becomes much easier to identify suspicious activity conducted under your name.

That’s one of the predictions that IBM is making for five years into the future. It’s clear that online security and identity theft is a big problem and something people worry about as they share more and more of their lives online in social networks. It’s also clear that passwords themselves are not enough of a barrier to prevent unauthorized use of your accounts.

But if we could come up with a way to automate security and have it follow us based on these tendencies, rather than as blunt instrument like a password, it could protect us much more easily without us having to worry about remembering passwords or other security measures because it will be done for us.

The graphic below illustrates how this works. Click it to get a better view.


Let me know what you think. Do you think this could be what online security will be like in 5 years?

Photo Credit: (c) Can Stock Photo

This post was written as part of the IBM for Midsize Business program, which provides midsize businesses with the tools, expertise and solutions they need to become engines of a smarter planet. I’ve been compensated to contribute to this program, but the opinions expressed in this post are my own and don’t necessarily represent IBM’s positions, strategies or opinions.

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

1 steve lee December 23, 2013 at 11:48 am

I have been in the business for 30 years which included retirement from IBM and a previous stint at NSA. Anything that makes security easy for one of us also makes it easier for all of us. Case in point – moving to the cloud removes geographic barriers and places our data outside the criminal enforcement jurisdiction for domestic data security and privacy laws. How do you discourage criminal activity if there is no threat of arrest or penalties for the criminals. Don’t forget that US companies through offshoring has been sharing these skills to the world for years. I know that for a fact.

2 Ron December 23, 2013 at 12:39 pm

I’m not sure what your point is, Steve. If your security profile traveled with you, then it would help prevent identity theft and fraud, especially if smart analytics were constantly tweaking it in the background. If we could implement a system like this we could prevent a great deal of the crime being perpetrated on the internet. That’s the point.

3 Lauren January 8, 2014 at 4:58 pm

Just a question about how this would work – let’s say for some reason you were to expand beyond your usual online habits and did for some reason buy a few songs on iTunes at 3am. Would the security system kick in and not allow you to continue on with your actions? Or would it simply notify you once the purchase had been made in order to inform you of suspicious activity?

4 Ron January 21, 2014 at 10:49 am

Good question. I haven’t worked out all the possibilities here, but I would like to think such a system would be smart enough to ask you some security questions to make sure it was you before locking you out for unusual behavior.

I’ve seen this with credit card companies where they get overly zealous about activity outside of your normal range, but you’re just traveling. It has to be a smart system or people will get annoyed very quickly.

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