For most Americans, the Internet is an important part of daily life. How we work, gather news, manage errands, and learn – it’s all inextricably linked to the Internet. We have also come to rely on the convenience factor it provides: shopping, connecting with friends, banking – we use it for just about everything.
Unfortunately, on the Internet as in life, a few bad seeds can make things more complicated and less safe for the rest of us. Online, “bad seeds” perpetuate increasingly intrusive cybercrimes that cost individuals and businesses billions of dollars and priceless peace of mind each and every year.
- 11.6 million Americans were victims of identity theft of some kind (including online identity theft) in 2011.
- There was a 67% increase last year in the number of Americans impacted by data breaches.
- And according to the U.S. Secret Service – which investigates many of these crimes – five of the top six vectors of attack used in data breaches last year focused on exploiting the inherent weaknesses of passwords.
As Americans look to the Internet for an increasing array of activities and transactions, it is critical to ensure a high level of trust. Trust enables new business models and inspires confidence in consumers to rely upon the Internet. Conversely, if trust is eroded, it threatens the continued development of a digital society.
Last year, President Obama issued the National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace (NSTIC), which charted a course for the public and private sectors to collaborate to raise the level of trust associated with the identities of individuals, organizations, networks, services and devices involved in many types of online transactions. The strategy calls for the creation of an “Identity Ecosystem” where individuals can choose from multiple providers of digital credentials for more convenient, secure and privacy-enhancing transactions everywhere they go online. Choice is central to the Identity Ecosystem. You will still be able to surf the Web, write a blog, participate in an online discussion, and post comments to a wiki anonymously or using a pseudonym. When you want stronger identity protection, you use your credential, enabling higher levels of trust and security.
As President Obama noted when he signed the Strategy, “Giving consumers choices for solving these kinds of problems is at the heart of this new strategy. And it is one that relies not on government, but on the private sector to design the technologies and tools that will help make our identities more secure in cyberspace and to make those tools available to consumers who want them.”
As part of launching NSTIC, the Department of Commerce established a National Program Office to lead implementation of NSTIC across the public and private sectors. In the months to come, we will be posting regular updates about our progress towards achieving NSTIC’s vision. We look forward to a productive exchange of ideas.
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For more information, please also visit our website at www.nstic.gov.
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