Saturday, April 5, 2008

Getting and Using your OpenID

I stumbled upon OpenID last year when I was foraging for single sign-on resources in the Internet. It is interesting to note that OpenID has grown by leaps and bounds in just over a couple of years since its inception in 2005. At the start of the year, OpenID's popularity ballooned when Yahoo! launched the public beta of its own OpenID identity service. The following month, the OpenID Foundation announced that heavyweights Google, IBM, Microsoft, VeriSign, and Yahoo! have joined its board. This recent development gives promise of significant things yet to come.

OpenID aims to simplify one's online experience by providing an account that can be used across multiple websites. Blogger already supports OpenID commenting and a Wordpress plug-in is also available to achieve the same purpose. An OpenID is a passport to hundreds of sites listed here.

Some people strongly feel that using OpenID is akin to putting all eggs in one basket since a hacked account becomes a master-key to several sites all at once. The specter of phishing super-accounts is disturbing, and real. Privacy concerns are also associated with identity providers amassing too much personal data. One practical answer would be to have several OpenID accounts (there goes OpenID's mission) --- having five OpenIDs instead of juggling fifty accounts is still nirvana to me... Ok, make that thirty - I can't recall the twenty already! And anti-phishing counter-measures need to be present, either built-in or as a supplement, OpenID or not. Identity-theft is not limited to phishing --- a significant chunk of the world's netizens can easily lose their online identity due to weak passwords, key-loggers or plain social engineering tactics.
Ready to take on OpenID and its challenges? To enable a Yahoo! account for OpenID, start here. Most may not know it but AOL, Technorati, and Livejournal users already have an OpenID associated with their accounts. A blog owner at Blogger or Wordpress can use their blog url (e.g. as OpenID account. If you're not one of the millions of Yahoo (248M) or AOL (63M) users, or just want to experiment with OpenID, a host of public OpenID identity providers can be availed of here.

Give it a spin by posting a hello on this blog using your OpenID account.