Thomas Hardjono on Kerberos and Open Mustard Seed

In a recent video interview, Thomas Hardjono, Technical Lead and Executive Director of the MIT Consortium for Kerberos and Internet Trust, explained how the Kerberos open source software is a key element of the Open Mustard Seed software platform being developed by ID3. Hardjono acts as a liaison with key external stakeholders who participate within MIT-KIT community, and as the technical lead establishes the strategic direction of its projects.

Kerberos began as an authentication software at MIT in 1987, said Hardjono. It has since gone on to become the most successful open source software of all, in the sense that it is nearly universally used. It is embedded in the major operating systems and by major computing enterprises from Wall Street to the U.S. Department of Defense to NASA.

Hardjono said that identity management so important these days because individuals are increasingly interacting with a variety of services on the Internet – and this requires a stable, reliable system for managing a person’s digital identities. Unlike free email services that offer proprietary identities “owned” by the host company, however, Kerberos is dedicated to open source solutions to identity management. It is now expanding into a number of new projects, including MITRE OpenID Connect, an identity management and federation software.

Another Kerberos project is its partnership with ID3 in developing identity management for ID3’s platform, Open Mustard Seed, which is based on a peer-to-peer architecture. OMS allows an individual to create his or her own digital community online – essentially “infrastructure in a box,” as Hardjono put it. For example, a group of mothers could create a ride-sharing cooperative in their neighborhood and invite nearby parents to join and contribute their personal data. The OMS platform would restrict the uses of that data for specific purposes only, and protect its security, while allowing the data to be appropriately shared within the self-organized group.

Looking forward, a major challenging facing the OMS platform and digital identity systems in general, said Hardjono, is “how to make them truly portable across systems.” For example, if a person has multiple digital personas for work, home, clubs, travel, how can the multiple personas be reliable linked to multiple devices used by the same individual?

The Hardjono video interview can be watched here.