CSIRO to trial IBM's Identity Mixer for collaborative research

The CSIRO will begin piloting IBM's cryptographic algorithmic solution in order to facilitate the secure sharing of sensitive information between government, academic, research, and industry partners.

IBM has announced that the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) is one of two organisations that will be piloting its cloud-based security solution, known as Identity Mixer.

Identity Mixer uses a cryptographic algorithm to encrypt certified identity attributes of a user, such as their age, nationality, address, and credit card number, in such a way that the user is able to reveal only selected pieces of personal information to third parties, like an online marketing survey, online retailer, or e-government website.

From March 2015, the CSIRO will begin piloting the solution for eight months as part of its plan to expand its online collaborative environment for agricultural research, which brings together government, academic, research, and industry partners.

According to CSIRO principal research scientist John Zic, currently, the collaborative environment consists mostly of internal people, limiting the collaborative nature of the research program. He said the reason behind this is because external parties involved in the research program require authentication and their credentials need to be verified, but what is missing is being able to do this in a strong way.

"The systems that we have are username, password-type systems, but with this current technology that IBM has developed, it's about strengthening authentication to a significant amount where you have much better credentials and are able to verify identification strongly," he said.

Zic further added that Identity Mixer will assist the CSIRO in expanding its collaborative environment, and facilitate the secure sharing of sensitive information across several remote locations and between collaborating partners.

"We have external collaborators when there is a research discussion that needs to happen, we bring in departments and so forth, but the day-to-day operational matters, they all require internal access -- so to extend its capabilities, we need to expand access to multiple organisations, but we also need to provide controlled access across these organisations," he said.

"In fact, the other requirement, depending on the situation, you might implement such a collaborative infrastructure at a top-secret level and you need very strong mechanisms to do that. Our system is just currently on the government network, so it's not top secret or anything."

Identity Mixer will also enable the CSIRO to control which users are allowed access to what data and instruments are being used as part of the collaborative research.

The Deutsches Rotes Kreuz (German Red Cross) in Germany will also be piloting IBM's Identity Mixer.