The Federation for Identity and Cross-Credentialing Systems (FiXs) -- a little-known group of non-profits, government contractors, commercial entities, and government agencies -- has just unveiled a first-of-its-kind global infrastructure to support distributed, integrated identity management and cross-credentialing across organizations. The implementation combines several existing security technologies along with a set of trusted models, policies, and operating rules to insure the accurate identity of personnel accessing physical sites or logical systems.
Already in a pilot mode at a handful of government agencies and defense contractors, the FiXs identity management initiative does not have a hard date for broad deployment, although the impediments do not appear to be technical. The cultural gap with the public in general is still too wide, said Dr. Mike Mestrovich, President of FiXs. I think there would have to be a public consensus to move us in that direction and I dont see that happening until at least 2009 or beyond.
Founded in 2004 and based in Fairfax, Va., FiXs counts among its members the Department of Defense (DoD), Wells Fargo, Lockheed Martin, EDS, and several others. Modeled after secure electronic payment systems and initially implemented by the DoDs Defense Manpower Data Center (DMDC), the FiXs initiative meets the objectives set forth in the October 2006 Homeland Security Presidential Directive (HSPD-12).
Until now, cross-bordering policies between government and industry had not been established, said Mary Dixon, director at the DMDC. The FiXs implementation does not assign roles, grant or deny access, or otherwise act as a gatekeeper. Rather, the mission of FiXs is simply to authenticate the identity of participants within its member organizations. Once verified by FiXs, individual site managers and systems administrators assign or designate access controls based on the role of the individual and the policies of a given organization.
FiXs capabilities allow it to cross between both public and private sector organizations using a federated trust model. The implementation is available worldwide in local or remote settings via both wireless and wired environments. Access is available in real time. An individuals specific identity data remains within their vetted source organization.
By its very nature, the federated solution aids in privacy because there is no central database and individual data can be stored in only one [vetted] place, Dr. Mestrovich said. Yet the distributed design and cross-organizational model found in the FiXs implementation does offer the possibility of a future national or international identity management system that might cross borders and organizational boundaries. The federated approach can actually take the place of a mandated National ID system, Dr. Mestrovich stated.
Still, the head of FiXs does not see a national or international identity management implementation as a near-term reality for a couple of reasons. First, no schedule has been defined to implement such a system on the federal, state, or local level, let alone among the broader private sector. We are speaking to a couple of States about using FiXs, but no timetable has been set, Dr. Mestrovich said.(Info world, 8.10.2007, Maggie Biggs) http://infoworld.com/t/applications/national-id-how-about-global-id-685