Internet PersonasSM as an Authentication Technology
In the world of online services, Passwords perform a very specific function: while a UserID asserts the identity of an end user, a password confirms that assertion, or 'authenticates' the identity. Authentication is the process of proving something is true. The best example of authentication outside the world of technology is the photograph on a government issued drivers license or passport.
Many years ago, drivers licenses were printed without a picture. Without a picture, anyone possessing a drivers license could claim to be the person identified on the license. To prevent this kind of impersonation, a photograph is now included on most drivers licenses and other government ID's. That photograph is used to authenticate the holder of the license: by comparing the picture on the license to the person presenting it, the photograph can be used to confirm the person possessing the license is its true owner.
In the world of online services, passwords authenticate or confirm the identity of end users. However, passwords are now seen as a weak way to authenticate end users. There are better ways to authenticate end users including Internet PersonasSM, which can complement passwords as a 2nd factor or replace them entirely.
Multi Factor Authentication (MFA) to Complement Passwords
Rather than replace passwords, it may be preferable to complement passwords currently used at a Web site with a 2nd factor. Multi Factor Authentication (MFA) is when another technology is used to complement passwords to authenticate the end user.
Internet PersonasSM can be used as that 2nd technology. In addition, a single Internet PersonaSM can be used across multiple Web sites as a second authentication factor to complement passwords. Finally, when an Internet PersonaSM is revoked, it is revoked across all the sites it is accepted - a significant improvement above and beyond Web site specific passwords.
Strong Authentication to Replace Passwords
Internet PersonasSM rely on the strongest security technologies available in Web browsers today. Those technologies support STRONG Authentication, which as the term implies, is a much better technical solution to authenticate end users than passwords.
With that in mind, Internet PersonasSM can completely replace UserIDs and passwords to access a Web site.