Security

One ID to rule them all

OpenID is an open-source mechanism enabling you to use a single online identity to log-in to different websites that support OpenID.

These days, with so many services on offer, chances are you'll have to remember more than one ID-password combination, assuming you are security-aware and are not using the same login details on all websites.

How many times have you forgotten your password and had to reset it? It's annoying and a waste of time. You probably know you're going to forget it again anyhow, especially if you don't use the website frequently.

If you'd rather save your brain space for something more interesting and useful than passwords, there is a way — OpenID.

OpenID is an open-source mechanism enabling you to use a single online identity to log-in to different websites that support OpenID.

The concept might already be familiar to you if you've used Windows Live. In contrast to Windows Live though, OpenID is a decentralised service, meaning the user information doesn't reside on just one site.

To start using OpenID, you'll need to sign up with a trusted provider of your choice. Flickr, Blogger, AOL and Yahoo are amongst some of the bigger sites that have put their hand up to act as OpenID providers.

You will be given a URL which you can use to log-on to websites that support OpenID. For a list of website that have implemented OpenID visit: http://openiddirectory.com/ and https://www.myopenid.com/directory.

When logging-in to your OpenID-enabled website, you will get redirected to your OpenID provider who will do the authenticating.

For example, let's say I want to activate OpenID access on my Yahoo account . Once I'm registered, I attempt to login with this ID into Flickr. I will get re-directed to Yahoo and enter my details there. Yahoo identifies me and I am now logged into Flickr. I then have the option of creating a new Flickr account using my existing Yahoo ID or a different screen name, or merging my Yahoo ID with an existing Flickr account. Pretty handy.

On the flip side, OpenID does raise certain security concerns. There are fears the tool could encourage phishing attacks, by allowing hackers to trick users into putting their information into fraudulent forms, giving them access to the user's account. Yahoo advises its users to set up a sign-in seal, in an attempt to combat the problem. This way, a personalized picture or message would get displayed to the user assuring them they are entering their details into a legitimate Yahoo webpage.

OpenID is still in its infancy stage and its success remains to be seen.

Editor's Picks

Free Newsletters, In your Inbox