There are almost as many ways to log on to a web site as there are web sites. And none is particularly secure in this age of identify theft and “phishing” and other credit card fraud. If Bill Gates’ InfoCard lives up to its billing, a painless way to secure online transactions and manage the ever-lengthening list of verification details needed for online activity may soon be available.
The chairman of Microsoft Corp. introduced the technology during his keynote address at a security conference in California in February. InfoCard will be part of the Microsoft Vista Operating System due later in 2006, according to the company, and will create a uniform way for people to log on to web sites, conduct transactions and prove their identities online.
The system removes the need to remember multiple digital identities on the Internet and takes a new approach to identity management. Manually typing user names, passwords and other verification information to access and interact with web sites will be a thing of the past. And users remain in control of the release of their identity to parties they choose and trust.
The Microsoft chairman also announced that the Windows Internet Explorer 7 browser will carry support for the card. The browser includes features that help users recognize whether the sites they visit are “phishing,” the term used for tricking customers into entering sensitive information like passwords and account information. It’s an easy scam because it is difficult to spot fraudulent sites. The new browser feature will make it more obvious.
InfoCard is the second attempt by Microsoft to find an ergonomic solution to a problem that worries governments, business and consumers equally. Five years ago the company’s Passport system fell far short of the original goal of becoming a universal method of identification on the Internet, but the timing of the InfoCard release could help it succeed. The worry about online security is greater now. This time around all parties could be more willing to cooperate to make the system work.
Source: Microsoft Corp.