SecurityBrief Asia logo
Asia's leading source of cybersecurity and cyber-attack news
Story image

Asia Pacific can start deploying mobile ID effortlessly if we learn from Europe

FYI, this story is more than a year old

With Asia Pacific (APAC) having the highest smartphone penetration levels and multiple Smart Nation initiatives underway in the region, APAC governments are looking for innovative ways to tap onto the mobile movement for their digital identity platforms. Amongst all, Australia and Singapore have developed their own versions of a digital identity program - Govpass and SingPass. But neither has yet to truly leverage mobile technology.

Some European countries, on the other hand, have found success implementing their mobile ID systems a long time ago.

By taking a leaf out of the European mobile ID book, APAC countries can stand to benefit by incorporating some learnings for our own mobile ID developments.

Hard token or soft token?

Before any plan for a mobile ID scheme is conceived, it is crucial for the governments and all parties involved to decide if they will deploy hardware or software tokens, also known as hard or soft tokens.

Hardware tokens – typically in the form of a SIM or an eSIM card, deliver superior security. There are several reasons. The Finnish mobile ID program is an example that used SIM-based hardware tokens.

Firstly, the security-related operations are done in the SIM cards – a tamper-resistant environment, making it virtually impossible for hackers to break into with either brute force or software. Secondly, the hard tokens are encrypted and protected before any data leaves the token, rendering information theft extremely difficult.

In a scenario where a software token, such as a one-time password (OTP), is used, the digital certificate or OTP application will be stored in the device itself. This makes it less difficult for hackers to access the device and extract that piece of information.

Software tokens can be implemented more easily than hard tokens on a larger scale, as users only need to download an application that allows them to receive the OTPs. Hard tokens, on the other hand, require that the users purchase or upgrade the SIM cards to those that are compatible with the mobile ID scheme.

The challenge remains for APAC governments to weigh the merits of both options and make an informed and deliberate decision.

In all mobile ID schemes, authentication of the digital identities is an imperative step towards better security. Therefore, all mobile and electronic ID implementations are encouraged to be compliant with the Digital Identity Guidelines released by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). The guidelines set parameters for electronic authentication and crystalized four levels of identity assurance.

Industry collaboration benefits everyone

So, what is there to learn from our European counterparts? Let us look at Finland as an example.

Launched in 2011, the Finnish mobile ID replaced the electronic identity (eID) card program and reaped immense success, as the key players - government, mobile operators, technology vendors, and citizens - understood the importance of digital identity comparatively early and worked collaboratively to drive the implementation.

By the time the mobile ID was launched, Finland had been an advanced mobile market and its three main mobile operators had all launched 4G/LTE networks and corresponding services, priming the market for the next mobile leap.

The three leading mobile operators in Finland also had a communal platform that allowed users to be authenticated irrespective of the network operator they subscribed to. This way, the Finnish operators formed a “circle of trust” – an agreement that allowed digital identities to effectively “roam” on each other's network. From there, the MNOs were incentivized to create value-added services on top of the mobile ID, enabling new business models and revenue streams.

Based on Finland's experience, APAC governments and mobile network operators can look to receive significant ROI through implementing mobile ID schemes. However, the project needs to be initiated and spearheaded by the APAC governments, who should provide clear directions, reinforce collaboration, and dispense legal clarifications for the implementation.

Make it easy to sign up and use (even for the elderly)

The European governments adopted a customer-centric approach when designing the mobile ID system, and started with simplifying the registration process. In Finland, citizens could walk into any mobile operator store, sign up for a new SIM and mobile ID service contract, and register their digital identity on the spot. Authentication is then done using the citizen's phone number and an issued PIN.

In many developing APAC countries, some citizens – especially the youngsters and elderly - might not have a bank account or a passport, but they are more likely to have a smartphone, preparing the ground for a full-fledged mobile ID scheme. To encourage the number of citizen sign-ups, governments can tap onto the extensive networks of small local retailers in the region to effectively reach out to the citizens staying in both urban and rural areas.

In addition, mobile IDs have great potential to serve the elderly, addressing the growing needs from APAC's aging population. Once the system is in place, the elderly can benefit from a high level of connectedness to essential government services at their fingertips, such as booking an urgent doctor appointment, updating personal, and checking their taxes if they are still working.

That said, given that this group is usually not tech-savvy, governments need to do two things - simplify the sign-up process, and provide a straight-forward, intuitive interface for the mobile applications. This will allow the elderly to join the mobile movement easily.

2027 and beyond

To ensure widespread success, mobile ID services will depend on collaboration between the governments, the telecom operators, and the technology vendors who can secure the mobile identities.

The key success factor is the role of the governments, which is to build and provide infrastructure on which new technological applications can be conceived and thrive. The governments should also proactively adopt a farsighted approach so as to create inroads for new applications like mobile ID. In APAC, it is time for the technologically countries to start strengthening their infrastructure and building a trusted framework for a full-fledged mobile ID scheme.

As all parties begin to work together towards a mobile ID system, it is also crucial to keep in mind that security should remain a primary consideration throughout the project. 

Related stories
Top stories
Story image
Mobile Device Management
How to easily scale your mobile workforce and devices for the peak shopping season
Retailers are under constant pressure to streamline processes and become more efficient while looking for ways to improve customer satisfaction levels.
Story image
Enterprises yet to fully commit to cybersecurity - CompTIA
“Digital transformation driven by cloud and mobile adoption requires a new strategic approach to cybersecurity, but this poses significant challenges."
Story image
Kaspersky uncovers new malicious malware NullMixer
Kaspersky researchers have uncovered a new malware stealing users credentials, address, credit card data, cryptocurrencies, and accounts.
Story image
Edge Security
Security practices for modernising the “spaghetti” of on-premises IT
Many organisations are wondering how to securely modernise their workload, often made up of a “spaghetti” of on-premises applications and management consoles.
Story image
Cybersecurity loopholes prevalent in South East Asia
In terms of the share of vulnerabilities with publicly available exploits, three countries out of top five are located in Southeast Asia.
Story image
How modern IT architectures are moving beyond network visibility
Dealing with multiple cloud providers makes it difficult to identify security threats and performance bottlenecks and troubleshoot issues.
Story image
IT Training
Six ways to transform your cybersecurity training and influence lasting change
If the goal is to win hearts and minds, formal awareness training can fall short and often doesn’t inspire people to care.
Story image
Video: 10 Minute IT Jams - An update from SearchInform
Val Novoselova joins us today to to discuss new trends in the information security space, and how SearchInform is adapting to some of the new trends we are seeing.
Story image
Confidence in security challenges of hybrid work improving
84% of IT professionals have some degree of confidence in their user access security systems to enable remote work securely and easily, up from 56% in 2021.
Story image
Absolute recognised in KuppingerCole Leadership Compass 2022
The company's Absolute Secure Access was recognised for its ability to protect users and resources while improving the remote worker experience.
Story image
Concentric AI, Snowflake to enhance data security posture
The integration benefits joint customers by making Concentric AI's data security posture management capabilities readily available on the Snowflake Data Cloud. 
Story image
Data Protection
Cloudflare brings Data Localisation Suite to more APAC businesses
This allows any business in these countries to service their data locally while benefiting from the speed, security, and scalability of Cloudflare’s global network.
Story image
Distributed Denial of Service
Reevaluating DDoS protection for a changing threat landscape
DDoS attacks are gaining in frequency, intensity, duration, and complexity, with attackers employing more vectors
Story image
Kaspersky updates endpoint detection and response solution
"One of the goals was to make all the solutions capabilities accessible for all types of our users, even those who are making their first steps in EDR."
Story image
Network Security
20/20 visibility key to improving network security
IT leaders around the world share a ubiquitous appetite for greater network visibility, according to a new study from Infoblox.
Story image
Aqua Security solution to stop software supply chain attacks
Development and security teams can now proactively address the most critical software supply chain risks from code through runtime.
Story image
Virtualisation Security Market to reach over $7 billion by 2032 - report
A new report from Future Market Insights has found that the Virtualisation Security Market is anticipated to reach a valuation of US $7.6 billion.
Story image
Security and compliance challenges halt innovation strategies
"What’s needed is a new mindset and a fresh approach, one in which security and compliance are continuous and actually speed innovation."
Story image
IoT security
Nozomi Networks and WALLIX strengthen OT network security
By combining WALLIX and Nozomi Networks solutions, end-to-end visibility and traceability for maximum security in an industrial environment is provided.
Story image
Test your API Security with Infinite API Scanner
The effectiveness of API scanning technology can mean the difference between successful and unsuccessful programming outcomes, and often enterprises and IT leaders struggle to get it right.
Story image
Artificial Intelligence
ForgeRock announces next gen identity orchestration capabilities
ForgeRock has launched identity orchestration capabilities to enable enterprises to deliver improved user experiences secured by threat protection.
Story image
Macroeconomic headwinds driving security up priority list
Current macroeconomic headwinds are driving security up enterprise’s priority list and reshaping the hardware Security Module market.
Story image
Secure Code Warrior
Secure Code Warrior announces Coding Labs innovation
Coding Labs mechanisms allow developers to move from learning to applying secure coding knowledge more efficiently, leading to fewer code vulnerabilities.
Story image
Security vulnerabilities
Claroty finds seven vulnerabilities in Dataprobe iBoot-PDU
The Claroty research team (Team82) has found seven vulnerabilities in Dataprobe's iBoot-PDU, the company's intelligent power distribution unit product.
Aws Marketplace
Learn how to implement a backup and recovery plan for a new generation of Kubernetes-based modern applications
Link image
Story image
SonicWall threat report mid-year update highlights significant threat variance
The 2022 SonicWall Cyber Threat Report mid-year update from SonicWall gives an in-depth insight into many of the current trends across the threat landscape.
Story image
Web Development
Oracle reveals and releases new Java 19 updates
Oracle has announced the availability of Java 19, which is set to deliver performance, stability, and security improvements for developers.
Story image
Cybereason delivers nation-state level of protection to enterprises
Cybereason has announced new advancements in Cybereason NGAV that deliver nation-state level protection for organisations of all sizes.
Story image
Commvault unveils early warning system, Metallic ThreatWise
A first among data protection vendors, the new cyber deception service detects and contains ransomware threats.
Story image
Hands-on review: Yubikey 5C NFC
Founded in 2007 and specialising in computer and network security, the Swedish company Yubico is now a leader in global authentication.
Story image
Threat intelligence
Trellix advances threat intelligence with new research centre
Trellix has announced the establishment of the Trellix Advanced Research Center to advance global threat intelligence.
Story image
Delinea shares the importance of PAM, partners and security for modern enterprise
Identity-based security is becoming a crucial tool for modern enterprises as they continue to adapt to different working environments.
Story image
Cloud Security
CrowdStrike launches new partner program to expand routes to market
"We developed the CPSP program in partnership with GSIs, MDR vendors, MSPs, MSSPs and Telcos to ensure we were meeting their needs and empowering them."
AWS Marketplace
Whitepaper: A practical guide for mitigating risk in today’s modern applications
Link image
Story image
Vectra Protect team finds Microsoft Teams vulnerability
The Vectra Protect team identified a post-exploitation opportunity in August, allowing malicious actors to steal valid user credentials from Microsoft Teams.
Story image
Crypto giveaway scams continue to soar, according to report
There's been a fivefold increase in the number of domains used for crypto giveaway scams that involve fake YouTube streams in the first half of 2022. 
Story image
Customer Relationship Management
Why Managed Service Providers are the next big target
MSPs are now such an integral part of the digital ecosystem that companies trust more of their sensitive data with them
Story image
Artificial Intelligence
Ordr improves security and management of connected devices
It has implemented more than 80 integrations within the Ordr Data Lake while adding security enhancements to accelerate zero trust segmentation.
Story image
Barracuda tackles intensified threat landscape with latest releases
"The Barracuda XDR solution combines data across our security stacks through a single dashboard view, giving us the visibility we need."
Story image
StackHawk launches deeper API security test coverage
Expansion of test coverage includes custom scan discovery, custom test scripts and custom test data for REST APIs.
Story image
Absolute Software extends persistence technology to Trellix
Customers can benefit from Absolute’s firmware-embedded connection, ensuring that Trellix's endpoint protection solution remains effective and healthy.