Australia Fuels Digital ID Infrastructure Growth: ForgeRock Report

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Australian government agencies are increasingly looking to engage with citizens digitally, which means more transparency and multi-factor authentication.

The claims come from digital identity and access management (IAM) provider ForgeRock, which recently published a report titled “Building Trust in Digital Government, Australia.”

In the marketing publication, various public sector information security experts discuss the importance of trustworthy digital services at the government level.

The report mentions Australia’s Digital Government Strategy document, which says the government’s goal is to become “one of the top three digital governments in the world by 2025”.

But while that progress is welcome, writes ForgeRock, government digital services must continue to improve to keep up with the service experience that’s becoming more prevalent in the private sector.

“As the custodian of vast data sets about citizens and businesses, the government has a responsibility to protect the privacy of that data and to maintain and enhance community trust,” the report said, citing a publication titled Australia’s Tech Future.

“Government takes this issue very seriously and more needs to be done to increase transparency and build trust in both the use of data and government decision-making.”

The ForgeRock report also highlights the importance of digital transactions by governments, especially considering that certain government interactions are mandatory for Australian companies and individuals (e.g. tax obligations).

“Whether it’s health, taxes, welfare or welfare, it’s much more efficient to do these things online, both for the agency and for the consumer of those services,” said Jamie Norton, former IRS chief information security officer a consulting partner at cybersecurity firm McGrathNicol.

Biometric authentication is paramount when it comes to technologies used to secure these digital interactions between government agencies and citizens.

“Today, we expect mobile-first experiences, the ability to use biometrics for authentication, and service registration and association processes designed with information minimization principles in mind,” writes Johan Fantenberg, lead solution architect at ForgeRock.

“It is also important that digital government services are inclusive and usable for a wide range of users, including users with disabilities and specific language preferences.”

The ForgeRock document also addresses risk, trust and transparency issues.

“Anything that is financial automatically has a high level of security criticism,” says Norton.

“In certain sectors, any sense of insecurity can hurt the adoption of a digital utility. A notable example is MyHealthRecord, which was found by the Australian National Audit Office in 2019 to not have properly managed all cybersecurity and privacy risks.”

In addition, the report addresses challenges related to inclusivity, confidentiality, infrastructure and resources that can hinder the path of digital government.

“Sometimes we don’t know what the answers to these situations are, but I think we’ve gotten to a point where we can’t make a system unsafe because one or two percent just can’t participate,” explains Norton.

“We have to be as comprehensive as possible, but there has to be a baseline, like E.g. multi-factor authentication, because the improvement in security is so great that I don’t think we can ignore it much longer.”

Still, ForgeRock believes that Australian government agencies are taking steps in the right direction and that the country’s digital ID infrastructure is slowly but steadily evolving.

“As more services are digitized and regulations evolve, balancing security controls and solutions with usability and accessibility will be an important task for all stakeholders in the design and planning of trusted digital services,” the report concludes.

Its release comes weeks after the massive Optus hack that further fueled demand for digital ID cards in Australia.

Article Topics

Australia | authentication | Biometrics | digital government | digital identity | ForgeRock

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