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Best Practices for Managing User Identifiers

This document presents best practices for assigning and managing unique identifiers to the users of computer systems in medium to large organizations. It begins with definitions and background information, then proceeds to explain scope, uniqueness, business processes, challenges and best practices.

Defining user identifiers

What is a user identifier, or ID for short?

Technical definition:

Multi-user computer systems often need to identify users, so that access to applications and data can be controlled, logged and attributed to people. Computers refer to people using unique numbers or strings of characters. These numbers or character strings are user identifiers.

User-centric definition:

Users have a variety of identifiers, which uniquely identify them in some context. Examples in the IT environment include operating system login IDs, e-mail addresses, employee numbers. Examples from day-to-day life include driver's license numbers, credit card numbers and passport numbers.

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