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GCN : September 2013
[BrieFing] The idea of using one online credential to deal with multiple government agen- cies will get a step closer to reality this winter, when the U.S. Postal Service begins testing such a system with as many as six agencies. The Federal Cloud Credential Exchange (FCCX) will be a federated identity management hub that will let agencies accept online creden- tials issued by trusted third parties. This would of oad from agencies the burden of managing usernames and passwords, and it would allow citizens to use existing log-in credentials that have been issued by another organi- zation they already do business with, such as a bank. USPS has selected SecureKey Technologies to provide a cloud-based platform for a pilot program to validate digital credentials for citizen access to government services. FCCX will use the SecureKey briidge. net Exchange, which already provides similar services to the Canadian government. The service is akin to an online payment gateway system that links multiple merchants with multiple credit card issuers, said SecureKey chief marketing of cer Andre Boysen. "We're using the same notion to build a two-sided identity market- place," Boysen said. The exchange will use a "triple-blind" process to hide personal information from the FCCX hub and the relay- ing agency, to hide the identity of the original issuer of the credentials and to prevent log-in information from being shared or compared between agencies. "The FCCX service will not have any insight into citizens' identities or store personal information about them," USPS said in a written statement. "It only will be designed to pass the cre- dentials between the approved creden- tial provider and the federal agency." The contract was awarded Aug. 19 for the one-year pilot program. Devel- opment is expected to begin this fall, with testing starting in January. The pilot will include up to six agencies that will make citizen log-in to their services available via FCCX. Trusted identity providers will be approved under the Federal Identity, Credential, and Ac- cess Management (FICAM) initiative, and they will support the four Levels of Assurance de ned by the National Institute of Standards and Technology required for credentials used to access government resources. The pilot provides a chance to evalu- ate whether there is a viable market and revenue model for the Postal Service to deliver this type of service, USPS said. It also will validate techni- cal feasibility and pinpoint what, if any, changes would be necessary to move on to full operating capacity for the government. "The goal is to prove successful for all involved and move into full produc- tion," the USPS statement said. • USPS to put federal ID system to the test BY WILLIAM JACKSON Testing on FCCX won t begin until January, so details of how it will work have not yet been worked out. But SecureKey Technologies, whose briidge.net Exchange cloud platform has been selected for the one-year pilot, already provides similar services for the Canadian govern- ment. And SecureKey s chief marketing o cer Andre Boysen said FCCX is expected to work much like Canada s Concierge credential exchange. Here s what the process could look like: The citizen will navi- gate to the website of a participating federal agency via a browser and will be o ered options for logging in that will include FCCX. Upon clicking the FCCX box, the log-in request is redirected to the cloud-based service operated by USPS. A box will be presented o ering the third-party certificate providers participating in FCCX. The user can click on a cre- dential provider he already has a relationship with, such as a bank or other service provider. The request is directed to a log-in page from that credential provider, where the normal username and password or other log-in methods are used to authenticate identity. If the log-in is accepted, the credential provider creates an anonymous token saying, in e ect, that "the per- son who originally enrolled in this account is here now." This token is passed to the FCCX server. FCCX anonymizes this token so that the identity of the third-party issuer now is hidden, and passes it to the rely- ing agency. If the agency recognizes the token as that for a user already enrolled in its sys- tem, and if it meets the proper level of assurance, the user is logged in. If the user is not already enrolled in the agency system, he must go through a first-time enrollment process. Anonymous tokens sent to di erent agencies for a single user will be di erent, so that log-in activity for an indi- vidual cannot be tracked across agencies. How a federated credential exchange works 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 8 GCN SEPTEMBER 2013 • GCN.COM