Microsoft's Passport technology
is an attempt to unify and augment
the security of a user's identification
to web sites. The basic idea behind Passport is that Microsoft
has whatever information
users choose to provide stored on a server
, which it shares with sites
that use Passport. Microsoft has also implemented
a Passport "wallet
" to aid in buying products
Typical information, such as the user's name, address, and birthdate, can be entered into the Passport. When users sign in to Passport, their password is sent to Microsoft's server via an SSL connection, and their sign-in information is stored on a temporary cookie on their computer. Thus, whenever they enter a site that supports Passport, a user's information is entered automatically, like showing a passport when traveling from country to country. This feature is called "single sign-in service."
The temporary cookie also stores a list of which sites Passport signed the users in on, so Passport can automatically log out of these when the users sign out of Passport. The cookie is encrypted, to discourage malevolent computer users from getting access to important information. Also, after the secure transmission of information occurs and users are logged in to the site, the site refers to their identity through a number generated by a key which changes every so often. This makes it difficult for anyone to falsify their identity using Passport.
The Passport wallet is different, and is treated with a higher level of security. The wallet stores information about a user's credit cards and billing and shipping addresses. Information from the wallet is never stored on the user's computer as a cookie. When they make a purchase on a site using Passport, the user's credit card information goes from the Passport server at Microsoft to the site over an encrypted connection. When the user selects a credit card stored in their Passport wallet, only the first six numbers are displayed, a security feature like those used on ATM receipts.
There are two other functions provided by Microsoft Passport. There is the Kids' Passport, which allows parents to monitor and control their children's online privacy. Also, Passport users can create a public profile that they can share with other users onlin].
From Microsoft's official Passport web site, http://www.passport.com, here is a list of sites using Microsoft Passport as of August 8, 2001:
And a list of online merchants using the Passport wallet:
- alle' Fine Jewelry
- Anna Cris
- Blue Nile
- Costco Online
- Crutchfield Electronics
- Forzieri.com (Europe and Japan)
- Gadget Universe
- Gold and Diamond
- J White Computers, Inc.
- MSN eShop
- My Shopping Club
- Office Depot
- Simply Sapphires
- The Sports Authority
- Victoria's Secret