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ssi trust triangle showing issuer, holder, verifier

SSI Trust Triangle

According to a report by the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE), companies face a significant threat from fraud. The report states that fraud costs organizations a median loss of $117,000 per case and takes an average of 12 months to detect (Source: ACFE). Thus, Self-Sovereign Identity (SSI) as a concept has been gaining momentum in recent years as a new way of managing and verifying digital identities. Instead of relying on centralized authorities to manage identity information, SSI gives individuals full control over their personal data and the ability to share it securely and selectively as needed. The SSI Trust Triangle is a key framework that underpins the SSI model, providing a way to understand the interactions between the three key players: the Issuer, Holder, and Verifier.

At its core, the SSI Trust Triangle is about trust. It recognizes that trust is essential for any system of identity management to work effectively. The triangle consists of three components: the Issuer, Holder, and Verifier. Let’s take a closer look at each of these components and how they interact in an SSI system.

The Issuer is an entity that creates and issues digital credentials. These credentials contain information about an individual, such as their name, date of birth, and qualifications, and are cryptographically signed to verify their authenticity. Examples of Issuers could include government agencies, universities, or employers. In an SSI system, the Issuer is responsible for verifying the identity or qualifications of an individual and issuing a digital credential that can be stored securely in the individual’s digital wallet.

The Holder is an individual who receives and stores digital credentials issued by an Issuer. These credentials are stored in the individual’s digital wallet and can be presented to Verifiers when required as proof of identity or qualifications. Holders have full control over their digital wallets and can choose which credentials to share with Verifiers and when. They can also revoke access to credentials at any time, giving them complete control over their personal data.

The Verifier is an entity that needs to verify the identity or qualifications of an individual. Examples of Verifiers could include potential employers, government agencies, or service providers. The Verifier requests specific credentials from the Holder, who then presents or transmits them digitally. The Verifier can then verify the authenticity of the credentials by checking the cryptographic signatures of the Issuer.

Now, let’s explore how the SSI Trust Triangle works in practice.

Consider the following example:

A university (Issuer) issues a digital credential to a student (Holder) for completing a degree program. The digital credential contains information about the student’s name, the degree program completed, and the date of completion, and is cryptographically signed by the university to verify its authenticity.

Later on, the student wants to apply for a job at a company (Verifier) that requires proof of their qualifications. The company requests the digital credential from the student, who then shares it digitally through their digital wallet. The company can verify the authenticity of the credential by checking the cryptographic signature of the university (Issuer).

In this example, the university acts as the Issuer by creating and issuing the digital credential, the student acts as the Holder by receiving and storing the credential in their digital wallet, and the company acts as the Verifier by requesting and verifying the credential.

The SSI Trust Triangle has several key benefits.

  1. User Control: Data is decentralized and stored by users in their wallets. It gives individuals more control over their personal data and reduces the risk of identity theft, fraud or large scale data breaches.
  2. Trust: It increases trust between parties involved, since the cryptographic signatures and decentralized nature of the system make it difficult to tamper with or fake digital credentials.
  3. Interoperability: It allows different systems to work together seamlessly, without the need for complicated integrations or manual data entry. This enables individuals to use their digital identities across a wide range of services, such as banking, healthcare, and government.

Overall, while the SSI Trust Triangle offers many benefits, there are also a few challenges that need to be addressed to fully realize its potential. These challenges require a coordinated effort from different stakeholders, including Issuers, Holders, Verifiers, technology providers, and policymakers. By working together, we can overcome these challenges and create a more secure, decentralized, and user-centric system of identity management. myEGO builds the decentralized infrastructure for the next generation of identity based on the SSI framework and technology. We thus, put in the effort to work together with multiple stakeholders in order to build the trusted network people will need. Find out more: Our Products.