The use of multiple usernames and passwords represents a boon for hacking, identity theft and other forms of cybercrime and is causing substantial financial loss amounting to billions of US dollars.
An ITU initiative on identity management (IdM) that will address this problem is poised to offer a technology- and platform-independent solution.

The world's key players in IdM have now taken the first steps towards a globally harmonized approach to IdM. Developers, software vendors, standards forums, manufacturers, telcos, solutions providers and academia from around the world have come together in an ITU Focus Group on Identity Management to share their knowledge and coordinate their IdM efforts.
The aim is to bring interoperability among solutions by providing an open mechanism that will allow different IdM solutions to communicate even as each IdM solution continues to evolve. Such a "trust-metric" system has not existed until now.
Experts also concur that interoperability between existing IdM solutions will provide significant benefits such as increased trust by users of on-line services as well as cybersecurity, reduction of SPAM and seamless "nomadic" roaming between services worldwide.
Abbie Barbir, chairman of the Focus Group on Identity Management and Nortel standards adviser, says: "Our main focus is on how to achieve the common goals of the telecommunication and IdM communities. Nobody can go it alone in this space; an IdM system must have global acceptance. There is now a common understanding that we can achieve this goal."
IdM promises to reduce the need for multiple user names and passwords for each service used, while maintaining privacy of personal information. A global IdM solution will help diminish identity theft and fraud. Further, IdM is one of the key enablers for a simplified and secure interaction between customers and services such as e-commerce.
From now to July, the Focus Group will conduct an analysis of what IdM is used for as well as analyse the gap between existing IdM frameworks now being developed by industry forums and consortiums. These gaps will need to be addressed before interworking and interoperability between the various solutions can be achieved.
A framework based on this work is expected to be conveyed to relevant standards bodies including ITU standards-setting groups, in particular Study Group 17 dealing with telecommunication security. The document will include details on the requirements for the additional functionality needed within next-generation networks (NGN).
ITU's standardisation sector has a long history of innovation in this field, with key work on trusted, interoperable identity framework standards, including Recommendation X.509 that today serves as the primary "public key" technical mechanism for communications security across all telecom and internet infrastructures.