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[Report] Economics of Identity Management Systems – Towards and Economically Incentived User-Centric IDMS

Mohammed H. Almeshekah
Masters Thesis, Information Security Group, Royal Holloway, University of London, September 2010
Thesis (full text)

ABSTRACT: The ubiquity of identity management systems in people’s online activities has lead to a significant growth in the number of identity management solutions. These systems have been designed to help users manage their digital identities and, at the same time, give online service providers the ability to control users’ access to their services. Because these systems handle users’ personal information, privacy and security issues are of great importance.

However, since service providers usually favor systems that lead to maximize their profits more than systems with advanced security and privacy features, studying the economics of identity managements systems is an important subject. In order to drive service providers to adopt more secure and privacy enhanced identity management systems, these systems should appeal to them, not only for their technological advancements, but more importantly, for their economic value.

In this dissertation, we aim to provide new and profound insights into the economics of identity management systems by applying several well-known economic theories such as network externalities and information asymmetry. In addition, we examine the economics of some widely deployed identity management systems such as OpenID, Microsoft Passport and Microsoft CardSpace. Moreover, we propose a novel scheme for making the current user-centric identity management systems more economically incentivized. We do this by integrating the concept of web metering, which is widely used in the Internet advertisement market, into the user-centric identity management systems. We also provide a proof of concept of this integration within the CardSpace’s framework.

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