IBM's Identity Mixer, or "Idemix," software will mask consumer information exchanged in web transactions and help to combat online identity theft.
Idemix was created by IBM researchers in Switzerland and will enable consumers to purchase goods online without disclosing sensitive commercial information. The new technology acts as a middle man in online transactions between merchants and consumers. The software creates "pseudonyms" for online transactions that satisfy requirements for sensitive information, such as credit card number, social security number, date of birth or driver's licence number, without actually providing the information, according to a statement from the company.
IBM plans to contribute Idemix to the Eclipse Open Source Foundation's Project Higgins, an open source identity management framework backed by IBM, Novell and Harvard University.
Idemix will be a privacy layer for Higgins that will allow pseudonyms to be shared between Higgins-compliant systems. That will mean that sensitive information does not need to be replicated between multiple, third party systems in an identity management solution, IBM says.
Trusted third parties (banks or government agencies) will issue vouchers to systems build using Idemix that contain the confidential information (say, a bank account number). When online purchases are made, Idemix seals the IBM will digitally sign and seal the information so that it can be transmitted online, the company says.
Higgins is just one effort to tackle that problem. In November, Oracle announced the Identity Governance Framework, an initiative to develop specifications for sharing identity data between applications.
In addition to providing the Idemix software to Eclipse, IBM will incorporate it with its Tivoli identity management software.