API ID card SecurityThe production of ID cards is an important element of the secure identification ecosystem.  This broad area of technology has become an essential part of modern life, because personal identification is the cornerstone of system security.  Security has leapt to the forefront of our collective consciousness as we have all become hyper-vigilant in the face of identity theft, hackers, phishing, ransomware, and the myriad of other online threats that are out there.

It seems that the faster our technology advances, the faster the bad guys are able to come up with new ways to make us feel unsafe online.  Trust is at an all-time low, and worry and fear are collectively at their highest levels ever in the United States and globally.

But there are some signs that our well-warranted collective concerns about online security may begin to decline in the near future.

First of all, with the broad awareness around cyber attacks, everyone is becoming more educated and more vigilant.  The ‘low-hanging fruit’ that attracted many of the early, brazen attacks have reduced the ranks of hackers by weeding out the less-sophisticated schemers.  No one these days is falling for an email from a Nigerian prince telling them they can share his inheritance of millions of dollars.

Second, the collective investment of billions of dollars in securing our systems infrastructure, including devices, networks, and servers has made it much harder for bad actors to penetrate higher, thicker walls.  Your PC, your phone, and all the web services you use are infinitely more secure than they were a few years ago as security patches are installed, encryption is generalized,  and secure identification is made comprehensive.

Even that age-old vulnerability of our systems, the login/password combination, is declining as a source of data breaches.  With the use of advanced digital access services, like multi-factor authentication, biometrics, single-sign-on, and forced password rotation, this vector of attack is constantly narrowing.

But there are two major new technologies which will multiply the ability of our systems, going forward, to even better defend themselves from attack.

The first one is of course the amazing new capabilities brought to us by AI. Artificial intelligence promises to be able to automatically recognize unauthorized access to systems and data, and prevent access even in previously unforeseen circumstances.  The potential of AI in this area cannot be understated, and there are already a number of well-funded start-ups focusing on harnessing AI to continuously monitor and analyze access attempts and filter out those which are deemed to be threatening.  AI will be a game changer through its ability to look across systems and determine intent, in real time, and to thwart unauthorized users.  Another tranche of less-sophisticated bad actors will be eliminated.

The other technology which is already having a very significant impact on better identification of users is a part of the internet’s “plumbing”: APIs, or Application Program Interfaces.  These connections between systems have become an essential component of the operations of nearly all the cloud services we use on a daily basis.  The way data bases and services are linked together provides a very strong ability to identify and validate who is actually behind an access request.

By triangulating between multiple systems, APIs can multiply exponentially the chances of identifying hackers.  Token-based authentication is commonly used for APIs, helping ensure that only authorized interactions are permitted.

For example, when a person accesses a physical office with, for example, an RFID ID badge, the building’s access control system is invoked.  If that person then normally clocks in using a time and attendance system, the interaction between those services, via an API, can validate his identity, or flag unusual activity.  If a user who usually accesses certain online services one day attempts to access a service he has previously never used, APIs can flag this unusual behavior and increase monitoring for a potential breach.

As APIs tie together all the systems we access, this web of interconnections becomes in and of itself a strong method by which to prevent security breaches.  ID cards and their associated digital identities are the basis of ensuring that a user is who he/she says he is.  As a result of this network effect, each system is no longer on its own to defend itself against attackers.  Each system can rely on its networked “neighbors” to collectively identify unauthorized users, and broadcast between them, via APIs, information which can prevent cyber security breaches.

And there are other security benefits to be derived from the use of APIs.  Their use always implements encryption protocols to protect data during transit and data at rest.  API security involves continuous monitoring and logging to detect and respond to security incidents promptly, allowing immediate identification of suspicious activities or potential breaches. APIs can also be used directly to detect malware and insertions, enhancing overall security.

As America’s premier provider of online photo ID cards, InstantCard has been a leading actor in the important realm of identity management.  We are proud to support the enhancement of the security that comes with the use of our technology to ensure a safer world around us.  We have provided advanced REST-based APIs to our badging service since 2012, and they are used extensively by our clients to enhance the security and efficiency of their ID management systems.  You can learn more about how our clients are using InstantCard’s unique API capabilities here.  If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact us!