Secure identification of users, programming agents, hosts, and networking devices is considered the core element of computing security. Rarely is anonymity a desired goal of systems, networks, and applications. This aspect is dictated largely by the extent in which computing has evolved to automate many facets of critical human activities, such as in businesses and even in processes that can have direct effects on human lives. To that end every unit of computing in modern systems with a relative level of security is attached to an authenticated identity associated with it. This enables deterministic accountability and lays the foundation for responsible and secure computing, as we present in chapter 1. We emphasize the major aspects relating to identification and access control and define the basic concepts that collectively form the foundation for computing security.
An identity in computing reflects real-life entities in that its level of granularity can be coarse (such as representing an organization; a group of people) or can represent a specific individual or a particular computing device. The premise of achieving deterministic accountability is centered on the processes that support coherent and consistent identity management where a one-to-one correspondence of an identity to a real entity, its owner, can be achieved. Assurance in identity, referred to as identity trust, is established through authentication. In computing security trust is computable. The authentication process is based on providing what is called ÜIQ proof of identity possession, while uniqueness of an identity is generally parameterized by referencing a well defined naming space. The latter can be as simple as a local registry of a centralized system or as wide and global as the Internet. The level of trust in an identity varies depending on the proof presented to establish it. Although trust in computing spans all elements that contribute to enforcing system and networking controls including the integrity of identity repositories and that of governing policies, evidently it is all predicated on the trust that a system or a network establishes in an identity.