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Shedding a Light on Decentralized Identifiers

With activities and exchanges occurring more frequently in the digital realm, the need for user privacy and security has considerably increased. One of the biggest flaws in the digitally trafficked world is that large databases of user information owned by corporations are highly susceptible to data leaks and hacks. In response to these quandaries, Metadium has proposed a shift towards a network of decentralized identifiers. This proposal to change the status quo can revolutionize how personal data is managed.

What are decentralized identifiers?

Decentralized identifiers (DID) are encrypted identifiers that refer to a subject and point to a set of information called the DID documents. The DID documents store identifiable information about that specific subject (i.e. name, address, date of birth). These forms of identity live in a decentralized identity network known as the distributed ledger technology to prevent any certificate authority from controlling a database of personally identifiable information.

What roles do authentication, authorization, and attestation play in decentralized identifiers?

While authentication and authorization may be interchangeably used in digital management, their roles are distinguishable. Clearly comprehending the meaning behind these terms as well as their functions in decentralized data management is crucial to understanding the role of DID in digital management. With that in mind, let us first start with authentication.

  • Authentication

Authentication is the method of cryptographically proving that a subject is associated with a DID and its documents. The subject of the DID must authenticate himself or herself in order to prove the validity of his or her ownership: known as identity verification. A common example of authentication would be a service provider sending a pin to a user’s phone number for the user to recite. In a decentralized network, authentication is pivotal in preserving an authentic relationship between the user and service provider.

  • Authorization

Authorization is the permission of operation given by the subject of the DID to other entities. Operations refer to a set of DID functions such as creating, reading, updating, and deleting a DID (CRUD operations). Usually, service providers ask subjects for authorization in the case that the subject loses the ability to authenticate. A common occurrence would be the following: a service provider requesting the subject for authorization to purchase certain products that requires user identity. In contrast to that of a centralized data management, authorization in a decentralized network requires complex algorithms and cryptography to implement within the ledger.

  • Attestation

Finally, attestation is a service provided by a third party that gives complete confirmation that the subject is indeed the owner of the DID. Attestation is needed in cases in which authentication does not serve as enough of an identity verification for the service providers. Indeed, if a different entity had possession of some of the subject’s information, it could be possible for him or her to pass the identity verification test. In a decentralized network, attestation of user identity can be challenging to is needed in the transferring of highly sensitive information.

Looking into the future

To euphemistically characterize, the world’s handling of digital identity management has been inefficient. Data leaks and hacks have become regular occurrences, and while recent efforts by the European Union to protect personally identifiable information in the digital world show promise, it’s unequivocally clear that the accidents outweigh the responses. Metadium plans to turn the tide: its goal to provide a safe and efficient network of digital identifiers. The Metadium team has been continuously striving to make its vision a reality.

Treavor Lee and the Metadium Team



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