Thales Blog

From Marco Polo to Modern Mayhem: Why Identity Management Matters

April 9, 2024

Ward Duchamps Ward Duchamps | Director of Strategy and Innovation CIAM, Thales More About This Author >

Imagine yourself as Marco Polo, the Venetian merchant traversing dangerous trade routes. Every border crossing meant proving your identity – who you were, where you came from, your purpose. Misrepresenting yourself could mean imprisonment or worse. Today's identity struggles aren't about camel caravans and silk, but that same core battle remains: proving who you are and protecting that identity from those who'd use it against you. This is why we have Identity Management Day – a stark reminder in our digital world that protecting our virtual passports is vital.

The Stats: Why Identity Management Is Crucial

Marco Polo's most significant risk might have been a hostile tribe or a sandstorm. Sadly, our modern dangers are far more insidious. Think of these stats as warning beacons that light the perilous path:

  • Over 1 million children become victims of identity crimes every year. This one makes your heart sink. Identity thieves don't care about age – they want clean slates to exploit.
  • One-third of Americans have experienced identity theft at some point. If it hasn't happened to you, it's likely happened to someone you know — a friend, a neighbor, a coworker. This isn't some far-off problem.
  • Identity theft cases have nearly tripled in the last decade. Each case is a life disrupted.

The scope of the problem is daunting. It may seem easier to accept it as part of our digital lives, but that's the path of least resistance – and the most dangerous one. Identity Management Day is about acknowledging the risks and actively choosing a different path.

The Digital Identity Conundrum

We live in a world obsessed with convenience. Who wants to wait in line, fumble for passwords, or answer endless security questions? We want to order pizza with a click and log into our bank account with a fingerprint. The trouble is, so do the bad guys. That's where things get... tricky.

  • Frictionless vs. Fort Knox: We crave frictionless experiences online, but strong security often means the opposite – think multi-factor authentication (MFA). That extra code sent to your phone may irritate you, but it could stop a hacker in their tracks. The Thales 2024 Digital Trust Index (DTI) report reveals that MFA is often perceived as the enemy of a frictionless user experience, yet 81% expect brands to offer MFA.
  • The Onboarding Dilemma: We want to sign up for new services fast, but companies must make sure we are who we say we are. Again, Thales DTI 2024 indicates that 80% of customers expect a fully digital onboarding experience, and 87% expect some level of privacy rights from the companies they interact with. The dance between ease and responsibility is a delicate one.
  • AI: The Savior or the Spy? AI helps combat fraud, but we get twitchy when algorithms know too much about us. Nearly six in ten consumers are nervous that brands’ use of AI will put their personal data at risk. There's a constant tug-of-war between personalization and the creepiness factor.

The key takeaway? There are no easy answers. The best identity management solutions find the sweet spot – protecting us without unsurmountable challenges in the process.

Solutions and Best Practices

Worrying about identity theft is exhausting; taking action is empowering! Here are a few simple habits that can make a big difference:

  • Password Power-Ups: Your passwords are like flimsy shields against determined attackers. Use long, complex passwords unique for each important account. Even better? Use a trusted password manager to take the guesswork and memorization out of the equation.
  • MFA for the Win: It's that extra layer (like the text to your phone) that can thwart scammers. Enable MFA wherever it's offered – it's worth the slight inconvenience.
  • Ditch the Passwords (Where Possible): Passwordless authentication, using biometrics or security keys, is gaining traction. Embrace it where you can – it's super secure and way more convenient than remembering "P@ssw0rd!234".
  • Spotting the Phish: Scammers excel at impersonation – that email from your "bank" might not really be them. Learn the red flags of phishing attacks, and when in doubt, don't click!
  • Mind Your Online Footprint: Everything you share online is a puzzle piece for potential thieves. Be mindful about what you make public, and check the privacy settings on your social accounts regularly.

This isn't an exhaustive list, but it's a start! Good identity management is all about building layers of protection and gaining your customers’ trust. Identity Management Day is a call to action. Take charge of your and your customers’ digital identity and help build a world where strong identity management fosters trust online.

To better understand what fuels trust in our digital world, download the latest Thales 2024 Digital Trust Index report.