We are hearing the term “digital identity” more and more these days. But what it is exactly, what information does it consist of, how do we protect it and how can we utilize it in the upcoming years to make our lives easier?
Techopedia defines digital identity as “an online or networked identity adopted or claimed in cyberspace by an individual, organization or electronic device“. Simply put, your digital identity is a set of data or information existing online that can be traced back to the real, physical you.
Included in this set may be pieces of your personal information – name, address, social security number, or date of birth, which are then linked to attributes that exist solely in the digital world, such as email addresses, usernames, URLs, or domains. Also linked to your digital identity is your digital activity – search history, online purchases, or social media activity.
All of these data points all intertwined with each other then create an online “persona” of yourself that mirrors the physical you in the digital world – and that is your digital identity.
Digital identity – what is it for?
For you, your digital identity serves you to navigate online spaces and make your daily tasks easier by moving them from the real world to the digital one – the ability to shop, make bank transfers, or set up a doctor’s appointment through the internet is all possible thanks to your digital identity.
But you are not the only one benefiting from your digital identity. Every piece of information about yourself you share on the internet can potentially be used to surveil you, but way more realistically, it is exploited by companies to advertise to you.
Protecting your digital identity
From what has been said so far, it should be pretty clear that digital identity is something that ought to be protected, and that goes for individuals and businesses or organizations alike.
Online identity theft is rampant and can lead to many unpleasant consequences ranging from someone taking over your social media to your bank account being invaded and money stolen, or even more nefarious things like loans being taken out in your name or crimes being committed under your stolen identity. Security breaches can also cost companies millions in lost revenue and damage control.
There are many ways to protect your digital identity online. Some of these include but are not limited to:
- using a VPN
- setting up multi-factor authentication for important websites and services
- taking the time to adjust your privacy settings
- using trusted solutions with robust security for important tasks such as signing documents
Is signature a key part of one’s digital identity?
Yes and no. Many of us still believe that our signature is a unique part of our identity and feel the need to protect it out of fear of it being misused by someone else. But in the digital world, the lines for what is and isn’t a signature are a bit blurred, as we explain in this article.
Since even typing your name under an email technically constitutes a signature, it is not hard to see how easy it is to just type someone else’s name and how useless this kind of signature can be unless it can be undoubtedly traced back to the real you. It is visible, yes, but it is hardly verifiable.
That’s where digital signatures secured with unique and trusted electronic certificates come to play. These signatures don’t necessarily have to include your name or your writing at all. Most of the time, they do purely out of habit and tradition – it’s something we look for in signed documents. But these types of signatures are the real assets in your digital identity rather than the visual ones, and they serve to protect it at the same time.
The future of digital identity
While our digital identities allow us to present ourselves in online spaces, they are not perfect and cannot replace our proofs of identity that exist in the physical world like passports or national IDs. Most serious tasks we perform online still require our identities to be verified in the real world or copies of our documents to be uploaded for verification.
That is, however, changing fast. With national digital identity frameworks being introduced in many countries across the world, such as the Singpass in Singapore, UAE Pass in the UAE, or BankID in various European countries, this physical identity verification step may soon be a thing of the past and replaced by a state-issued, “official” digital identity used in the digital world.
This trend makes our online presence more secure as, for example, documents signed with a national digital ID will always be traceable back to the signatory’s identity without any doubt or room for questions.
Our eSigning platform Circularo not only does the best to protect your digital identity and secure your signatures in the current state of affairs but is also integrated with the UAE Pass and BankID and easy to integrate with any national digital ID provider that may come into existence. We support the idea of a digital future that will make our lives easier and our identities better secured.
Interested in trying it out for yourself? Sign up for a free trial today.