Reclaim your data with a digital profile you manage.
Find out what a Self-Sovereign ID is, why you need one, and how to get yours today.
Who has your personal information, and what are they doing with it?
The short answer? A lot of businesses know more than you may realise.
Think of all the profiles you've created, of all the times you've shared your first and last names, birthdays, cellphone numbers, ID numbers, email addresses and even your current location.
From all the apps on our phones that require a login to the services and contracts we have - it's incredibly easy to give away personal information without even realising it.
Each time you sign up for a new service or create a new profile, the company that provides that service creates a centralised identity for you: a single profile that it maintains, secures, and continuously builds on.
Centralised identities are great in terms of convenience: all you need is one set of details which you can use to log in to the service provider's website and even supported third-party apps and services.
It makes life so much easier to click 'Sign in with Google' or 'Sign in with Facebook' instead of creating a new profile with new logins and passwords to remember.
But a centralised identity also has drawbacks:
Personal information is owned and controlled by a company, not you.
You have little control over what information is collected and how it's used.
Only the owner of the centralised identity can verify your information.
And if your centralised identity is ever compromised, lost or deleted by the company, you lose everything!
Also known as 'decentralised' identities, a Self-Sovereign Identity (SSI) is a digital presence you manage through a single online vault of information.
Your SSI has digitised versions of all your important or official documents, licences, and cards, but you manage who has access to that information, what for and for how long.
But because you create your SSI by providing information or linking digital assets (your credentials), there's a question of trust: you can say you graduated from Rhodes University with a Master's in Computer Science, but that doesn't necessarily mean you did.
Information needs to be verified before it can be trusted, and every SSI system needs three qualities to ensure that information is trustworthy:
1. A secure connection between parties.
This means that information shared by one person is only ever received or accessed by the intended recipient; no intermediatory is involved.
And an intermediatory can be defined as an email provider, such as Outlook, or a cloud-sharing platform, such as DropBox or Google Drive.
There must be no way for data to be intercepted or manipulated while in transit or at rest.
The information must be digitally watermarked for easy verification.
When information is stored in an SSI vault, the data is highly encrypted, and each element is cryptographically and indelibly watermarked too.
It doesn't matter how often that information is shared; the watermark stays the same.
The information must be easily verifiable by anyone.
In addition to digital watermarks, SSI providers must use public and private key encryption; Cowrie currently uses field-grade RSA 4096 encryption.
In this instance, the private key is used to digitally 'sign' information and the public key is used to verify that digital signature.
But most importantly, the public keys must be accessible to anyone to verify information and check its source, integrity, and validity.
The role of blockchain in SSI
Trust, understandably, plays such a crucial role in SSI which makes blockchains the perfect vehicle to store public keys and digital watermark information, and it is the critical reason Cowrie provides a private blockchain for its users.
Blockchains offer no backdoor or admin access to information.
Blockchains don't rely on a single server or service provider.
Blockchains are chronologically ordered - public keys are always current.
Through policies, technology and a keen understanding of SSIs, Cowrie is advancing regulatory technology by providing a uniquely robust way to securely share data between individuals, between individuals and businesses, and between businesses.
Information is protected in transit and at rest, no intermediaries or bad actors have sight of it, and it's fast and straightforward to verify the source of information, its integrity and validity.
Why you need an SSI today
In 2016, blockchain advocate Christopher Allen posted a blog entitled The Path to Self-Sovereign Identity. In it, he listed the 10 qualities an SSI needed to be successful, namely:
Users must have an independent existence.
Users must control their identities.
Users must have access to their data.
Systems and algorithms must be transparent.
Identities must be long-lived.
Information and services about identity must be transportable.
Identities should be as widely usable as possible.
Users must agree to the use of their identity.
Disclosure of claims must be minimised.
The rights of users must be protected.
Cowrie supports all 10 of these principles; we go even further and can ensure that all information obtained, held, and shared on the platform is 100% compliant with the Protection of Personal Information Act and the General Data Protection Regulation.
But Christopher Allen missed a very, very important quality:
Controlling their information must give the user an advantage.
Benefits for the individual
Imagine not having to fill out forms online anymore. Or being able to apply for a new loan or cellphone with ONE click?
Because third-party verification authorities confirm your information, you'll enjoy far smoother and better user experiences, enhanced privacy, and higher levels of security. You can also share your information with anyone and enjoy enhanced personalised service and business offers.
Benefits for businesses
How administratively laborious and costly is it to onboard new employees, customers, and suppliers?
How frustrating is it to consistently field the same requests for the same documentation?
Everything from KYC and enhanced due diligence to verifying credentials can be automated and completed in minutes instead of weeks. Your information will be more trustworthy, accurate and compliant.
Because information is now held by the individual and automatically captured, the likelihood of personal error is lowered, and businesses are no longer as attractive targets for cybercriminals, further reducing the risks of non-compliance and a significant criminal event.
How to get your SSI today
Visit the Cowrie web app now and spend 5 minutes creating an account.
That’s all it takes.
You can start adding digital or digitised information to your vault right away. From then on, businesses must request access to information in your vault, and as soon as it’s verified, a new version of the information will be added to your vault.
In fact, the more information you add to your vault, the less you need to provide and the great control you'll have.
Create your SSI now and take control of your information.