IBM Launches Identity Mixer to Protect Consumer Privacy

IBM's Identity Mixer enables developers to build apps that protect consumer privacy and combat identity theft.

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IBM recently released a new cloud tool that eliminates the need for users to share personal information with apps.

Available on IBM Cloud, Big Blue's new Identity Mixer protects a consumer's personally identifiable information. The technology is accessible to developers on IBM's Bluemix platform as a service.

Identity Mixer is based on years of cryptography research and can reduce identity theft from happening as the result of sharing personal data on mobile and Web apps, according to IBM officials. Using algorithms, the tool enables developers to build apps that can authenticate users' identities without collecting personal data, otherwise known as a "zero-knowledge proof."

IBM Research scientists in the company's Zurich, Switzerland, lab developed the technology, which authenticates users by asking them to provide a public key. Each user has a single secret key that corresponds with multiple public keys, or identities. Each transaction a user makes receives a different public key and leaves no privacy "breadcrumbs."

For example, in the case of an online streaming movie service app that requires users to verify that they have a paid subscription and that they are not a minor, the user would enter in his or her full date of birth, along with a number of other personal details that aren't necessary, such as first and last name, location and more. However, using Identity Mixer, the app can simply verify the authenticity of the user's claims of being above a certain age and having a subscription—without having to collect any other details or to interact.

Because no other personally identifiable data is exchanged, companies do not have the burden of protecting and securing this data, and users no longer have the risk of their data being exposed to malicious third parties.

IBM launched Bluemix with a $1 billion investment in 2014. The open-standards-based Bluemix catalog includes more than 120 tools and services spanning categories of big data, mobile, Watson, analytics, integration, DevOps, security and the Internet of things.

IBM continues to innovate around its Bluemix platform. Earlier this month, the company launched two new services for IBM Cloud—IBM Active Deploy and IBM Event Hub—to help developers run updates with no downtime.

The new services help developers avoid disruption to apps when deploying updates, eliminate complexity from manual processes and integrate data from sources of real-time information.

IBM Active Deploy, now available on Bluemix, enables developers to deploy software updates to cloud-based apps with zero downtime and no service disruption. The new continuous delivery DevOps service enables development teams to produce software updates in short cycles and be confident they can deploy these updates seamlessly and invisibly. For core business applications, even a few minutes of downtime can mean lost revenues and a sharp drop in customer satisfaction, IBM said.

The IBM Event Hub solution, a beta service on Bluemix, brings together events generated by a variety of Web services or on-premises systems into a centralized, cloud-based system. Multiple event streams can easily be aggregated within the Bluemix Message Hub, while still keeping data separate, organized and easily accessible. IBM Event Hub is launching initially with four connectors to enable integration of some of the largest sources of data into apps: Twitter, Salesforce, Cloudant and MQ Light.

Last month, Big Blue announced the availability of IBM Streaming Analytics and IBM Message Hub as services on the IBM Cloud.

These tools are based on the popular Apache Kafka messaging engine and are designed to work together to make it easier for developers to integrate external data into their apps, as well as visualize and continuously analyze this data.

Both services are available to developers on Bluemix.