In our digital world, most of us take online identity verification for granted. The process of confirming who you are has become such a common part of our daily lives that we no longer think about it. You unlock your phone, log into your email account, use your Amazon account to order more dog food, and check your bank balance without ever considering what goes into that process.

But behind the scenes, several systems are working to confirm your online identity. Read on to learn about three methods that can be used for these efforts and which one is the best.


The Question of Digital Identity

Before the dawn of our digital world, the idea of proving our identity as a daily part of life may have seemed strange. After all, your identity is who you are, right? It’s your face and your name and your personality and every record that comes from living a life in a community.

But as more of our lives have moved online, we’ve become accustomed to identifying ourselves multiple times a day. On the internet, everyone’s identity is only as good as their word, and reality is malleable. This has left internet security experts wondering how to conclusively prove someone is who they say they are through a digital format.


Three Forms of Online Identity

Over the years, internet security specialists have come up with three ways to prove that you are who you say. These are all based on you providing a piece of information and a digital system making sure it matches the record they have on file for you. If the information you provide doesn’t match, you are denied access.

The earliest form of digital identification was to provide access based on something you know. After those methods started failing, digital verification experts turned to identity-based on something you have. And the latest and most secure approach is to provide access based on something you are.


Things You Know

Most of our online identity tools today are based on the “something you know” approach. Most commonly, we see this used with passwords. If you know your username and password, and perhaps a PIN number, the account you’re trying to access assumes you are who you say you are.

In some cases, companies have begun to add security questions that, in theory, only you would know the answers to. The problem with any of these is that information can be shared, as you’ll know if you’ve ever given someone the passcode to unlock your phone. Hackers can also break into the databases where that verification information is stored and snag your password and security question answers.


Things You Have

When it became apparent that passwords and security questions were far from infallible, security experts turned to security measures that rely on something you have. After all, the best way to guard against digital threats is with physical security, right? This approach determines your identity based on something you physically have, such as a driver’s license or key fob.

Many systems these days use the “something you have” approach, including vehicle manufacturers. If you have a specific key fob, you can unlock and start the vehicle without using the actual key. The trouble is someone can steal your physical identification object and then have as much access to your information and property as you do.


Things You Are

The most recent and most secure development in digital security has been security based on who you are. Biometric identification goes back to the roots of identification before passwords, and security questions were a concern. The “something you are” method instead uses physical aspects unique to you to verify your identity.

You may be familiar with biometric identification from your phone’s thumbprint or Face ID unlock. This technology has become a ubiquitous part of our lives, and we can now use it to log into different accounts. And, as we’ll discuss more in a moment, this form of digital identity confirmation is among the most secure available today.


Why Biometrics Are More Secure

The primary reason biometric identification is so secure is that it’s impossible to duplicate or steal. No one in the world has the same face as you unless you’re an identical twin, and even then, no one has your same fingerprints. And even if hackers break into a database, they can’t steal your fingerprints and input them into the system to access your information.

Biometric identification also cuts out the part of the identity process that relies on your memory. As you’ll know, if you’ve ever had to go through the process of retrieving a forgotten password, memory is fallible. But you’ll never forget your fingerprint, and your ex, who knows all your login information, can’t duplicate it.


Get the Best in Online Security

These days, nearly every part of our lives are online, and we need the confidence that our information is protected. There are different ways to establish an online identity, but the “something you are” approach is by far the best. And thanks to the addition of biometrics to all our smartphones, that next level of security has become more accessible than ever.

If you’d like to get the best in online security, check out the rest of our site at Journey. We are the trusted digital identity platform that can help you provide the best customer experience possible. Check out our solutions today and start knowing your customers, not just their mother’s maiden name.