recommended reading

Postal Service to host cloud-based public-private ID protection network

winui/Shutterstock.com

The U.S. Postal Service has been tapped to manage a yearlong trial of technology that ultimately should allow citizens to securely register for online services at multiple agencies -- without obtaining multiple passwords and other digital identification for each service. Within days USPS is expected to begin hiring one or more cloud companies to host the simplified access network, according to a government notice.

The so-called Federal Cloud Credentialing Exchange, or FCCX, will act as a middleman between agencies and approved popular ID providers, such as Verizon and PayPal, that already have verified the identities of many citizens for e-commerce transactions, federal officials said this week.

If this service works, one day a person might be able to change an address online by logging on to USPS.gov with the same passcode or smart card that person uses to file taxes through IRS.gov and buy books from Amazon.com.

The exchange is meant to be part of a larger public-private movement. So far, agencies have stumbled leading the country on a likely decade-long endeavor, called the National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace, to ensure Internet users are who they say they are when interacting online.

One concern is that the strategy relies on trusting an embryonic industry of nongovernment “credential providers” to certify sensitive personal information. To soothe nerves, the Obama administration in November 2012 decided to start small, only at the Postal Service, with a model that can be scaled up governmentwide later, according to a draft work order.  

USPS “was chosen to manage the technical implementation of a pilot version of FCCX,” stated the draft, which was released Dec. 28.  Simultaneously, the General Services Administration, which handles federal purchases, will develop policies to guide participants using the network.

The exchange service will help “provide a consistent approach to authentication for citizens seeking online access to individualized federal agency systems and applications,” the contracting document stated. And it will allow customers “to use the existing credentials they already hold with the credential providers approved” by the U.S. government.

USPS intends to order Web-based software from one or more suppliers to try the service on test customers, ID providers and government offices, according to the document. The Postal Service did not specify the types of applications or customer interactions the exchange will attempt to facilitate.

Most departments have disobeyed a 2011 White House directive ordering all new federal websites to offer citizens the option of registering for government accounts with existing usernames and passwords. “Agencies have been challenged in this to date due to technical, policy and cost barriers that have made it challenging to accept third-party credential providers,” the contracting papers acknowledged.

The exchange network will not store anyone’s biographical, biometric or other personal data. And it is designed to prevent agency personnel and other participants from tracking citizens’ interactions across agencies. The network will “transmit credential information securely without knowing the identities of the credential holders and limit the ability of third party providers and relying parties to correlate the transaction activities of the credential holders,” the draft stated.

(Image via winui/Shutterstock.com)

Threatwatch Alert

Network intrusion / Software vulnerability

Hundreds of Thousands of Job Seekers' Information May Have Been Compromised by Hackers

See threatwatch report

JOIN THE DISCUSSION

Close [ x ] More from Nextgov
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from Nextgov.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • It’s Time for the Federal Government to Embrace Wireless and Mobility

    The United States has turned a corner on the adoption of mobile phones, tablets and other smart devices, outpacing traditional desktop and laptop sales by a wide margin. This issue brief discusses the state of wireless and mobility in federal government and outlines why now is the time to embrace these technologies in government.

    Download
  • Featured Content from RSA Conference: Dissed by NIST

    Learn more about the latest draft of the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology guidance document on authentication and lifecycle management.

    Download
  • A New Security Architecture for Federal Networks

    Federal government networks are under constant attack, and the number of those attacks is increasing. This issue brief discusses today's threats and a new model for the future.

    Download
  • Going Agile:Revolutionizing Federal Digital Services Delivery

    Here’s one indication that times have changed: Harriet Tubman is going to be the next face of the twenty dollar bill. Another sign of change? The way in which the federal government arrived at that decision.

    Download
  • Software-Defined Networking

    So many demands are being placed on federal information technology networks, which must handle vast amounts of data, accommodate voice and video, and cope with a multitude of highly connected devices while keeping government information secure from cyber threats. This issue brief discusses the state of SDN in the federal government and the path forward.

    Download
  • The New IP: Moving Government Agencies Toward the Network of The Future

    Federal IT managers are looking to modernize legacy network infrastructures that are taxed by growing demands from mobile devices, video, vast amounts of data, and more. This issue brief discusses the federal government network landscape, as well as market, financial force drivers for network modernization.

    Download

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.