Friday, August 08, 2008, 10:28 PM

Identifiers are Negative Authenticators

I was just responding to a friend's question about using biometrics, and I realized that one good way of looking at certain class of identifiers is as negative authenticators...

In a separate blog entry ( http://blog.onghome.com/2003/12/problems-with-biometrics.htm ), I pontificate on why biometrics should not be used as authenticators.

At best, biometrics can be used as identifiers (negative authenticators) -- if you don't have the biometric, you'll not be authenticated. But just because you have the biometric, does not mean that you're authenticated... something like how social security numbers or should be treated.

Perhaps we can label this class of identifiers Private Identifiers ... identifiers that you should try to keep as private as possible, but should expect that some group of people would have them. Private identifiers (your social security number), compared to public identifiers (your name), are expected to be more confidential... But I guess it is a matter of degree of public-ness we are talking about. A 100% private identifier is a secret that is never shared -- and thus, is pretty useless for identifying an entity.

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