Healthvault Implements OpenID

Techcrunch is reporting that Microsoft Healthvault has implemented OpenID via Trustbearer and Verisign:

Over 16 months after first declaring its support for the OpenID authentication platform, Microsoft has finally implemented it for the first time, allowing for OpenID logins on its Health Vault medical site. Unfortunately, Health Vault will only support authentication from two OpenID providers: Trustbearer and Verisign. Whatever happened to the Open in OpenID?

The rationale behind the limited introduction is that health is sensitive, so access should be limited to the few, most trusted OpenID providers. It certainly makes sense, but it also serves to underscore one of the problems inherent to OpenID: security.

The text-based passwords found scattered across the web simply aren’t very good for protection. We’ve heard countless tales of hacked or phished passwords leading to identity theft – what happens when a user’s entire web presence (including financial and health data) is tied to a single password? It’s a recipe for disaster.

To remedy the issue, a number of companies have come up with different ways to improve security. Trustbearer requires users to provide a physical ID “token” to verify their identity (users can order a $40 USB stick if they don’t already have one of the acceptable ID cards). Vidoop offers a free browser-based image authentication system that uses advertising to generate revenue. And so on.

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Dr Chris Paton

Dr Chris Paton is the Group Health for Global Health Informatics at the University of Oxford.

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