In a work-from-home world, a reliable digital ID is ever more important


by Michelle Johnston, Consultant, Government Strategy and Innovation, Equifax Canada

In the wake of COVID-19, Canada and the world are experiencing unprecedented changes to the regular course of business. Many companies have shown tremendous leadership by immediately issuing work-from-home directives to employees where possible, or committing to financially support employees where they have been forced to temporarily close up shop. With many Canadians home-bound for the foreseeable future, the need to conduct our lives online is increasing, and the need for us to do so in a secure manner with reliable digital ID is crucial.

The shift to working online and remotely will be a bigger shift for some companies than others. In the tech industry, work-from-home arrangements often already exist. Employees may already have a company-issued mobile phone and laptop that connect to a Virtual Private Network (“VPN”), and they may also have in place a two-factor authentication system to validate their identity when logging in. However, this situation is likely the exception, not the rule, for many companies. Office-based employees may not have a company-issued phone or laptop. Businesses should be wary of employees working from personal laptops and devices to access business critical resources, including emails, files and databases without a trusted mechanism to validate their identity in place, or they may put their company at risk to online fraud.

As we make the transition as a society to conducting business online quickly and efficiently, we must not let our security and privacy standards slip through the cracks. With an increased margin of error, online fraudsters will be on high alert for their next opportunity. There are many tools available to prevent this, including digital signatures, digital document verification, verified digital identity and ongoing user authentication. Companies conducting business with their customers by phone should consider mechanisms to verify identity as well, including knowledge-based questions or potentially voice-recognition software. 

“As we make the transition as a society to conducting business online quickly and efficiently, we must not let our security and privacy standards slip through the cracks.”

– Michelle Johnston

Employees working from home should consider a few best practices to keep their identities secure, including logging out and disconnect from VPNs when they are away from their devices. This will keep their devices secure while also staggering the use of VPNs and authentication platforms, which will also be facing an unprecedented surge in use. Being extra vigilant of phishing emails will be important as well, especially those disguised as company directives on COVID-19. 

These unprecedented and uncertain times present an opportunity to conduct business more efficiently online while many employees are directed to work from home. We must take steps to ensure the security of digital transactions with trusted digital identities in order to do so successfully. The introduction of the Pan-Canadian Trust Framework for Digital ID in Canada will help accelerate the adoption of Digital ID in Canada by private and public organizations, allowing Canadian workers to interact remotely across organizations in a faster, more secure manner. I encourage any company working on digital identity to engage with DIACC, share their story, and help advance this important work for the future of Canada.

About the Author: Michelle Johnston

Michelle Johnston is a Consultant in the Government Vertical at Equifax Canada, where she is focused on building strategic growth initiatives around government policy and direction. She is an experienced public policy professional and previously served as a senior advisor in the Ontario government.

The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author only. This article is for informational purposes only and is not legal advice and should not be used, or interpreted, as legal advice. The information is provided as is without any representation, warranty or guarantee of any kind, whether express or implied. Users of this informational article should consult with their own lawyer for legal advice.