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Trust Nexus
WebAuthn+ JSON DLT ~ The Internet of Value
Home WebAuthn+ Identity Distributed Ledgers Finance Demo IVY Test DEV Contact License
A simple addition to the Web Bluetooth API will completely solve the
authentication problem.  And most users will be able to keep the convenience
of user names and passwords!  Simple passwords will become highly secure.
  
The Internet of Value ~ An Open Letter to Microsoft, Apple, Google and the other Members of the FIDO Alliance
The Internet of Value
I hope that everyone who reads this letter is healthy and happy.  This crisis will eventually pass.  Humans have an incredible capacity to respond to adversity with creativity.
Just as the Black Death (1347-1350) transformed European society and made the Italian Renaissance possible, this current pandemic will have a transformative impact on our entire world.  When this crisis passes there will be a greater sense of community.  The world will become even more connected.  There will truly be a sense that, "We are all in this together."  We will realize that we have an incredible capacity for transformative change.
Social and business structures will be transformed by the currents of this crisis.  Technology will be the catalyst in this transformation.  The world's leading technology companies have a choice to either lead this transformation or be left in its wake.
This letter presents a clear path forward.  By the time you complete reading this letter, you will have a clear vision of an incredible future.
Imagine that for every business process and every financial transaction it was possible to touch a button on your smart phone that would generate a hashcode that represents all the elements of the process/agreement and then that hashcode would be cryptographically signed by your private key.
The elements, hashcode and signature would all become part of a cryptographically secure distributed ledger (not a "blockchain", which has turned out to be really bad technology); this ledger will be "chained" to a secure identity and provide an inviolable record that could be further extended in a similar process.  These ledgers will be the foundation of the Internet of Value.
Because these cryptographically secure distributed ledgers will have a structured JSON format (see the image below), they will be easily processed by Artificial Intelligent Systems; in some cases these intelligent systems will also extend the distributed ledgers.
The Internet of Value is the "next big thing".  Just as the information Internet transformed the world of information, the Internet of Value will transform the worlds of value transfer (finance, business process management, government services, NGO services... everything).  Combined with the Artificial Intelligent Systems, the Internet of Value has the potential to ignite a worldwide Renaissance by providing, "ubiquitous access to efficient financial systems and the ability to transact with anyone in the world."
In the very near future, all business processes and agreements (including all financial transactions) will be confirmed by a cryptographic signature of a JSON Distributed Ledger.  The signature will be implemented by a simple touch on a user's smart phone.
All financial services will be transacted through digital credentials issued by a user's bank (or financial services provider).  If your bank knows you and trusts you, everyone will be able to trust the digital credential issued by your bank.  This extension of trust will eliminate fraudulent financial transactions and uplift the Third World by providing secure and efficient financial services for everyone on the planet.
This technology will generate great benefits for all businesses, from startups to multi-national corporations to impoverished villagers in the third world.  JSON Distributed Ledgers will become the standard format for secure processes/transactions.  Some have estimated that the resulting economic efficiencies (by reducing time, costs and risk) will be measured in trillions of dollars.
Some Incredible Implications for the Future
In the late Seventies and early Eighties computer names were maintained by using handcrafted HOSTS.TXT files.  As networks became more interconnected this process became unmanageable.  Everyone knew that something needed to be done.  When the Domain Name System (DNS) was created everyone saw it as the obvious solution.
Similarly, when the solution to cybersecurity authentication emerges, everyone will say, "Of course, this is how it had to be."
Whenever a significant technology problem is solved, incredible new opportunities arise.  Solving the Domain Name System (DNS) problem made the creation of the information Internet possible.  Solving the authentication problem will make the Internet of Value possible.
The technology foundation of the Internet of Value will be based on secure authentication and JSON Distributed Ledgers as a cryptographically secure shared source of truth.  The JSON Distributed Ledgers will be highly structured and easily accessible for processing by intelligent systems.  The efficiencies introduced will be remarkable.
Supporting these processes will be a new multi-billion dollar profit center for each of the world's leading technology companies, especially in cloud computing.  The ledgers will be stored in the cloud and be accessible through an interoperable service; supply chain provenance will probably be the first major application (Would you like to know where your prescriptions or your food came from?).
A point of emphasis, these cryptographically secure distributed ledgers have nothing to do with crypto-currencies, blockchains or distributed databases; this has nothing to do with the blockchain hype.  This has everything to do with transforming business process management.
An organization can maintain complete control of its authentication process within the Internet of Value.  When there is no need for third party validation of credentials (e.g., a corporation or government agency simply wants to authenticate its own users) the infrastructure technology can exist as an insulated microcosm within corporations or government agencies
When third parties must rely on credentials (e.g., drivers licenses, passports, financial credentials, insurance credentials, etc.) there will be a credential provider infrastructure that will be managed through The Worldwide Distributed Ledger of Credential Providers.
Within the ecosystem of the Internet of Value users will be in complete control of their digital credentials.  The digital credentials will be stored on the user's smart phone with complete privacy.  (Yes.  We have also solved the problem of securing data on a smart phone.)
For third party authentication users will also be in complete control of how much of their personal data they are willing to share.  A user will be able to easily create obfuscated versions of their financial credentials.  Within the ecosystem of the Internet of Value all that matters is that your financial institution trusts the association between you and your private key; an association which the financial institution originally created.  A proven reference to your private key is all that is necessary to finalize the process.
All user accounts could have a different persona associated with the account.  Does Netflix really need to know who I am or where I live?  In most use cases there is no need for a user to share his/her legal identity.
The ecosystem of the Internet of Value will greatly influence political events by reintroducing classical Greek democracy to the world.  Unlike current on-line polls that can be "spammed" multiple times by a single user or a group of users, on-line polls conducted using the Internet of Value will be validated for user uniqueness.
Users could also volunteer to provide their demographic profiles to the on-line pollsters enabling political scientists to extricate more meaningful conclusions from their polls.  Ultimately, secure on-line voting will become a reality that will lead to an ever-increasing number of local, national and world plebiscites.  There will come a time in the near future when a consortium of major news organizations will call a worldwide referendum.
The technologies of the Internet of Value will be transformative.  These technologies will exceed all initial expectations.  It is possible for authentication to be simple, secure and trusted.  It is possible to create a cryptographically secure shared source of truth where all participants are trusted, privacy is maintained and all participants are instantaneously notified of changes.  It is possible for intelligent systems to create great economic efficiencies by processing JSON distributed ledgers.  There will be additional advances that we cannot yet imagine. 
The rewards in creating the technology foundation for the Internet of Value will be significant.  Everyone will benefit.  The world economies will flourish; the increase in trade, trust and opportunity will ignite a new Renaissance.
It all starts with secure authentication.
The FIDO Alliance
There are many MFA solutions on the market; unfortunately, none of the current MFA solutions mitigate against the new advanced attacks.
Many are placing great hope in WebAuthn from the FIDO Alliance; however, their solution is problematic and has not gained traction in the marketplace despite years of intensive lobbying by FIDO.  Rather than giving consumers what they really want, the FIDO Alliance is pushing physical security keys and biometrics.  Their goal is "passwordless authentication".
The WebAuthn promise of "simpler stronger authentication" is a noble goal; however, the current implementation of WebAuthn (approved as a W3C recommendation last year) is convoluted and complex.  The WebAuthn document reads like the blueprint for a massive suspension bridge to be built across a "narrow creek".  The problem that needs to be solved for secure web authentication is actually very simple:  insure the user is on the right web page; "www.chase.com" not "www.chaze.com".  This could be accomplished by a simple change to the Web Bluetooth API; the complexity of WebAuthn is completely unnecessary.
Also, in my judgement, consumers definitely do not want the inconvenience of physical security keys, which are a security threat if left plugged into a system and an annoyance when lost, misplaced or stolen.  Most consumers do not trust biometric surveillance (whenever I get a new laptop the first thing I do is put a piece of black electrical tape over the camera).  Consumers also think biometrics are intrusive (Big Brother really is watching.).
Those who are focused on WebAuthn from the FIDO Alliance are on the wrong path.  By the end of 2020 WebAuthn will be seen as just another failed authentication standard.
It is our hope that technology leaders within the FIDO Alliance will eventually realize that by simply focusing on "passwordless authentication" they have missed the far greater potential of creating a cryptographically secure shared source of truth that can be processed by intelligent systems; they have missed the Internet of Value.
Also, the success of any new standard will require extensive support for developers.  The FIDO Alliance has failed miserably in this regard.  Where is the FIDO reference implementation for WebAuthn?  Where are the simple step by step instructions for setup?
The Nirvana of Simple Passwords
The "Nirvana Solution" for authentication will enable users to keep simple passwords (which is what they really want).
What if users could easily reset their own passwords and these passwords could be incredibly simple (e.g., "asd", "123")?
About a year ago I attended a FIDO (WebAuthn) conference here in Austin.  After that conference my hope was that I would be able to touch a credential icon on my smart phone and securely authenticate to a web application (multi-factor out of band).  I thought it was brilliant to use Web Bluetooth (BLE) for the out of band confirmation.
Using Web Bluetooth solves one of the fundamental problems of secure web authentication:  insure the user is on the right web page; "www.chase.com" not "www.chaze.com" (this completely stops phishing scams).
However, even Google is having a difficult time getting WebAuthn functional from a smart phone (and they are just focusing on Google apps and Google Android phones)!  This implementation from Google fails most of the time (with a new Pixel 3A).  There is no way to fully test the system or to help out because Google (one of the leaders in the FIDO Alliance) is keeping their source code secret from the development community.
Also, in Google's "solution" the mobile device is only used as a proxy for a biometric idnentifier.  Google and the other members of the FIDO Alliance have made a significant mistake:  by defining their problem as "the elimination of passwords" they have constrained their "solution".  The Groupthink of the FIDO Alliance prevented the consideration of a solution that gives consumers what they really want.
WebAuthn+
I have been creating Internet applications since the early days of the Internet.  I am currently an Application Architect for a technology company in the Austin area.  When I mentor junior developers I always tell them that simplicity and clarity are the hallmarks of good code.  The more complex a technology system is, the more difficult it is to maintain and extend.
After the FIDO conference I began work on an authentication prototype that would utilize Web Bluetooth.
We have created a system which we call WebAuthn+.  In all sincerity, we think WebAuthn+ is the "Holy Grail" of authentication: simple, elegant, cryptographically sound and user friendly.
Architecturally, WebAuthn+ is completely different from WebAuthn (which has significant dependencies on the Credential Management API).
The UX process flow for WebAuthn+ can be seen here.
The the technical overview of WebAuthn+ can be found here.
Insights on the Philosophy of Identity can be found here.  Some key insights:
  • Your identity is not determined by a collection of attributes; your identity is determined by a cryptographically secure digital credential that associates "you" to a public key.  For each specific context, the essence of "you" is determined by an institutional validation.
  • If your bank validates you and issues you a digital credential, your identity does not matter, all that matters is that you are the only person who can utilize that credential.
  • Think of the past when the king's seal represented a stamp of approval; your identity did not matter, all that mattered was the validity of the king's seal and that you were the rightful holder of the credential.  In the age of technology it is possible to create a "valid seal" with a secure private key on a smart phone.
  • When third parties must rely on credentials, surprisingly, there is no need to store user credentials or identity data in any type of worldwide data structure.  All that is necessary is to have sufficient information to validate the credential provider (bank, insurance company, government agency, etc.) because their private key is used to sign a hash of all the credentials they issue.
One of the key aspects of WebAuthn+ is that once the user successfully authenticates for the first time (with the full WebAuthn+ process through a digital credential on a mobile device), he/she can designate the system as a "trusted system".  In the future, the user can authenticate to that system with a simple user name and password.
If a bad actor can steal the user's password and gain access to the "trusted system", the user's account can be compromised; however, a bad actor cannot gain access to a user's account through a phishing scam, a MITM attack, by stealing user names and passwords from a server or by any of the new advanced attacks.
The risk involved with a "trusted system" (e.g., a home system or a work system that you exclusively use) is far less than the risk of using a digital certificate or the risk of storing user names and passwords within a browser.  If high security is necessary (e.g., banking applications, government applications), the full WebAuthn+ process can be required; this process is impervious.
The efficiency gains are significant.  The problems of forgotten passwords and resetting passwords go away completely.
The convenience for users is also significant.  The user is in complete control of his/her identity credentials.  Decentralized Identity will become a reality.
For everyone who has secure applications at work:  Imagine that your security team provisions a digital credential to your smart phone and you can securely authenticate to a secure application from anywhere in the world by simply touching the "Sign On" button in your credential manager app.
Once you have successfully signed on, you have the option to designate the system as a "trusted system".  In the future, you can authenticate on this system with a user name and simple password ("asd", "123", or even simpler).
If your smart phone is lost or stolen, the bad actors cannot utilize your credential manager app or access any data on your device (we have a unique and impervious solution for securing data on a mobile device).
Credential revocation is simple in WebAuthn+, just flip a switch in a database table.
What happens if a user loses his/her smart phone?  The credential restoration process is straightforward:  buy another smart phone, install the TNX WebAuthn+ mobile app and have your digital credential reissued by whatever process the institution establishes (for Netflix it may be a simple email process; for your bank it will certainly be much more).
Some Technical Details
The password can be incredibly simple because the value that the user enters is combined with a UUID salt value that is stored on the user's system as a cookie; hence, the system needs to be trusted and secure (within a browser, cookies can only be accessed by the domain that generated the cookie).  The password and the UUID salt value are used to generate a cryptographic hash using the PBKDF2 function from the Stanford JavaScript Cryptography Library.
        var out = sjcl.misc.pbkdf2(password, sjclSalt, sjclIterationCount, sjclLength);
        var passwordHash = sjcl.codec.hex.fromBits(out).toUpperCase();
        console.log("passwordHash: " + passwordHash); // TODO: remove
A simple user password of "asd" becomes "7C3249A2415F53FC1A8A150C60C9347CBC14AE0C62C7C5C73FF4BC45A15ECFCA"; this value is essentially a generated password and is sent to the server over encrypted HTTPS.  The value is hashed once again with the Argon2id hashing algorithm (most secure) and stored on the server as a set of Argon2id parameters:
'$argon2id$v=19$m=1048576,t=4,p=8$HQiUtZvto2icGsXVTF/BJw$emWzw24cLFhmnd8WUhZDyjRJHCg1C0J9542yTPCiACE'
Whenever the user signs on, the hash values are recalculated and compared with the stored hash value.  Without access to the user's physical system and knowledge of the user's password, it is impossible for a bad actor to sign on,  even if there was a complete breach of the server data.  The user can use the same simple password across multiple sites because each time it will be combined with a different salt value and will be stored on different servers as a completely different hash value.
A cookie with a password on a trusted system is actually more secure than a digital certificate on a "trusted system".  With a digital certificate a bad actor just needs to access the system, either physical access or through malware.  When a cookie and a password are required a bad actor would need both.  Essentially, the cookie turns your trusted system into a "something you have" authentication factor.
Also, the user can always reset his/her own password.  There is no need to call tech support.
Many assumed that user names and passwords had to be eliminated in order to solve the authentication problem.  The paradox of the WebAuthn+ solution is that most users will be able to keep their user names and passwords, and passwords can become even simpler.  We truly have solved the authentication problem by attaining the "Nirvana of Simple Passwords" (which is what consumers really want).
An open source reference implementation is provided for WebAuthn+ with a step by step guide for developers.
A system is secure if the plans for the system are public, and the bad actors can still not break in.
Trust Nexus
I know it sounds incredible, but as a tech startup in Austin we have solved the authentication problem; any IT expert who examines our system architecture will realize its simplicity and elegance.  After review, the question most people ask is , "Why isn't this already being done?"
The Trust Nexus is the name of our startup.  We are creating new standards for authentication and cryptographically secure distributed ledgers (NOT blockchains).  Our technology, WebAuthn+, is far superior to the WebAuthn "standard" being promoted by the FIDO Alliance.  In addition to simple, secure authentication from a mobile device, our working prototype includes the capability to securely sign a distributed ledger with one touch on a user's mobile device (see the image below).
Our authentication solution, WebAuthn+, succeeds where the FIDO Alliance has failed.
If you spend thirty minutes and review three sections on our website you will grok the paradox of simple passwords and you will also experience the joy of creative insight:
If the major technology companies are willing to provide minimal initial funding for the infrastructure to support the Internet of Value, the Trust Nexus is willing to make this technology completely free for all players big and small (the very big, 20,000+ employees, will happily pay a nominal license fee).  Service providers will be able to incorporate WebAuthn+ into their offerings; some organizations will "roll their own" and create their own internal implementation based on the open source code.
If we act with wisdom and grace, everyone will benefit form creating the ecosystem for the Internet of Value.  If everyone plays by the same rules the game will be fair for everyone and more fun for everyone.
There is only one piece of the puzzle that we want to hold onto:  The Worldwide Distributed Ledger for Credential Providers.
This ledger will provide a trusted reference to the credential providers' public keys, and the metadata required for the validation process and the credential revocation process. 
The Worldwide Distributed Ledger for Credential Providers will contain at most a few hundred thousand entries for credential providers worldwide; it is a limited set (banks, other financial institutions, insurance companies, national governments for passports, other government agencies for government programs, state/provincial governments for driver's licenses, educational institutions, etc.).  In terms of data structures, less than a million records is an incredibly small data structure.
We will make this data structure available for free for every major cloud based infrastructure so that services can be easily created off of the data.
Remember, an organization can maintain complete control of its authentication process under the Trust Nexus.  Our infrastructure technology can exist as an insulated microcosm within corporations or government agencies.  The Worldwide Distributed Ledger for Credential Providers is only necessary when there is a requirement for third party validation of credentials (e.g., when a user presents his/her banking credentials to a merchant or the holder of a passport presents the passport for identification, or in processing insurance claims, etc.).
In order to maintain the infrastructure for the Internet of Value there will be a nominal license fee equal to the annual cost of employing one good software engineer (in North America), currently about $150,000 USD.  This annual license fee will be paid by every business organization and governmental organization with 20,000+ employees.
Key aspects of WebAuthn+ and the Internet of Value:
  • secure authentication without biometrics or physical security keys; the Nirvana of simple passwords
  • eliminate fraudulent financial transactions and uplift the Third World by providing secure financial services
  • transformation of business process management through cryptographically secure distributed ledgers
The Path Forward
There are some minor details to be worked out.  Most significantly, there needs to be a simple change in the Web Bluetooth API so that the method "writeDomainNameCharacteristic()" is run from within the browser application context (so that it cannot be modified within the JavaScript).  Also, the browsers need to implement "Session Specific Pairing" so that the very annoying Bluetooth pairing screen does not appear and force a user interaction.  More details on these two issues can be found on our website: WebAuthn+
The reason Microsoft, Apple and Google are so important to this endeavor is because they currently control large segments of the browser market share and it would be very helpful if they would implement the changes just mentioned.
Apple has great respect for consumer privacy.  If Microsoft and Google are dead set on their plans for WebAuthn, it is most likely because they have a strategy to harvest data from every authentication in every web application and every application running on Windows and every application running on Android; that utilization data would be exceptionally valuable data (and ethically, I think it would be an unfair competitive advantage).
If Microsoft and Google adhere to a failed strategy based on WebAuthn, they will most assuredly ignite a new browser war.  They will be fighting this war against an alliance that includes nearly every government on the planet.  Corporations spying on their users has become a major problem.  Corporations should become proactive participants in the privacy debate.  If they do not help guide the debate, the tide of public opinion will result in punitive legal restrictions.
The Internet browser market could also fragment and a company like MITRE with their ties to NIST could establish national standards for Internet browsers that provide security and protect privacy; no company would use any browser that was not "NIST Certified".  Additionally, international organizations could become involved.
Rather than having a browser war, it would be far better for everyone to "play nice" in a cooperative ecosystem.  The Trust Nexus has the technology to create that ecosystem and we are willing to give most of it away for free.
Our technology truly is superior to WebAuthn and all other MFA systems.  All those who are committed to existing multi-factor identity management systems are like engineers in the 1890s working diligently to perfect the telegraph system; all their work will soon be eclipsed by a much better technology.
An open source reference implementation is provided for WebAuthn+ with a step by step guide for developers.
A system is secure if the plans for the system are public, and the bad actors can still not break in.
In a time of social isolation, a system for secure authentication and secure process management becomes critically important.
Our goal is to create a worldwide ecosystem for secure authentication and cryptographically secure distributed ledgers.  We are going to create the foundation for the Internet of ValueThis cooperative endeavor truly has the potential to change the world.
Imagine that in 1989 someone had approached you and said, "There is this new technology called HTML that is going to change the world."  In the near future, the impact of the Internet of Value in transforming business processes, enhancing governmental services and uplifting the third world will have a far greater impact than the information Internet.
I hope that anyone who reads this letter will join us in this endeavor.  Initially, I hope that we can take three simple steps together:
  1. Conceptual Review
  2. Testing the Fully Functional Prototype
  3. Setting up an Incubation Project
In terms of game theory it would be a wise decision for the leading technology companies to invest a small amount of time in the evaluation of WebAuthn+ because the potential rewards are extraordinary.
I look forward to talking with you soon.
Kind regards,

Michael Duffy
CEO / CTO ~ Trust Nexus
http://www.trustnexus.io
P.S. In addition to secure authentication, our working prototype includes the capability to securely sign a distributed ledger with one touch on a user's smart phone.  Here is an image of a signed distributed ledger (simple example with three text fields) from our test page:
P.P.S Apologies for the extensive amount of information in this letter; but if you have read this far...
Those who are focused on WebAuthn from the FIDO Alliance are on the wrong path.  The FIDO Alliance's promise of "simpler stronger authentication", is a noble goal.  How did the implementation get so screwed up?  How did an alliance of the world's leading tech companies set out on a path that in my opinion has lead to failure?
The problem affecting WebAuthn is the same problem affecting many aspects of our society, especially our politics:  the mindset of the tribal group.
"Groupthink is a psychological phenomenon that occurs within a group of people in which the desire for harmony or conformity in the group results in an irrational or dysfunctional decision-making outcome.  Group members try to minimize conflict and reach a consensus decision without critical evaluation of alternative viewpoints by actively suppressing dissenting viewpoints, and by isolating themselves from outside influences."[ref]
"Groupthink requires individuals to avoid raising controversial issues or alternative solutions, and there is loss of individual creativity, uniqueness and independent thinking.  The dysfunctional group dynamics of the 'ingroup' produces an 'illusion of invulnerability' (an inflated certainty that the right decision has been made).  Thus 'the ingroup' significantly overrates its own abilities in decision-making and significantly underrates the abilities of its opponents (the 'outgroup')."[ref]
It is possible for one individual to breakthrough the the mindset of the tribal group, even when he/she is going up against some incredibly smart people who are absolutely certain they know what they are doing.  The story of John C. Houbolt from the early days of NASA is a story that should be taught in every engineering program.  John C. Houbolt was THE guy who figured out how to go to the moon.  He succeeded against strong opposition because his solution was technologically superior and because his ultimate concern was the success of the mission.
A final note:  As the recent bestseller Loonshots points out there are many great ideas that are rejected or ignored before they finally attain success.  I am certain this endeavor, "WebAuthn+ The Internet of Value", will exceed all initial expectations.  I hope the members of the FIDO Alliance will not become just like another major corporation, Excite, that failed to realize the potential of a transformative technology.
"Early in 1999, Brin and Page decided they wanted to sell Google to Excite.  They went to Excite CEO George Bell and offered to sell it to him for $1 million.  He rejected the offer.  Vinod Khosla, one of Excite's venture capitalists, talked the duo down to $750,000, but Bell still rejected it."[ref]
Intelligent systems, acting on cryptographically secure distributed ledgers, will have a transformative impact on improving financial and managerial processes.  While there is a great deal of unwarranted hype surrounding blockchains and crypto-currencies, it would be unwise for anyone to underestimate the potential of cryptographically secure distributed ledgers in creating the Internet of Value.
The following is another incredible historical anecdote:
       "The telephone is so named by its inventor A.G. Bell. He believes that one day they will be installed in every residence and place of business. Bell's profession is that of a voice teacher. Yet he claims to have discovered an instrument of great practical value in communication which has been overlooked by thousands of workers who have spent years in the field."
       "Bell's proposals to place his instrument in almost every home and business place is fantastic. The central exchange alone would represent a huge outlay in real estate and buildings, to say nothing of the electrical equipment. In conclusion, the committee feels that it must advise against any investments in Bell's scheme. We do not doubt that it will find users in special circumstances, but any development of the kind and scale which Bell so fondly imagines is utterly out of the question."
       ~ From the minutes of the 1876 meeting in which Western Union considered a proposal by Bell to sell all rights to the telephone for a mere $100,000.[ref] ~
© Copyright 2020 ~ Trust Nexus, Inc.
All technologies described here in are "Patent Pending".