login screen (24Novembers/Shutterstock.com)

In search of a common login

Before long, Americans may be able to use a single login across government, rather than trying to remember separate logins for each service.

Login.gov, developed by a team at the U.S. Digital Service and the General Services Administration’s 18F,  lets people use just one sign-on to securely access services from multiple agencies.

The shared identity authentication solution will benefit agencies, too. The cloud-based login.gov promises to eliminate the clutter of multiple login systems and save money because agencies won’t have to repeatedly pay for identity proofing.

“This allows their developers to, within hours, be able to integrate in a development environment and to be able to integrate the login.gov technology so they can control their mission, which is to provide their service to the user,” said Joel Minton, director of login.gov. “And we can control the login experience, which makes it a lot easier for the agencies to focus on what’s important to them.”

Privacy, security and usability were the team’s goals. “We have an encryption algorithm [that] is extremely strong and actually uses the user’s password and recovery code to encrypt the data, which means that we can secure the data with much higher confidence,” Minton said.

When visitors to federal websites click the login button or the service they want to access, the site redirects to login.gov, where users can set up an account or sign in to an existing one. Then the system sends them back to the agency’s site to continue on their path, he added.

Login.gov is the government’s fourth attempt at a centralized identity management solution. Minton credits its success to top-level support and voluntary use. “Right now we want to just help agencies come onto the platform and make sure it’s better than any other solution,” he said.

About the Author

Stephanie Kanowitz is a freelance writer based in northern Virginia.

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