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Identity and Access Management

Purdue University Identification: PUID Background

Many people now access Purdue University resources and services by interacting electronically with computer-based, service-provider application programs. In these interactions, an individual identifies him or herself to the application and requests one or more resources or services. The service-provider application must then answer three questions before fulfilling the request:

  • "Who does this person claim to be?"
  • "Is this person really who they claim to be?"
  • "Is this person authorized to have the resource or service that they are requesting?"

Purdue's Infrastructure for Identification, Authentication, and Authorization (I2A2) was designed to provide the processes and information required to answer these questions within Purdue University. The I2A2 program is aimed at protecting students, faculty, and staff, as well as alumni and retirees, from the unauthorized use of their University records. The program also safeguards Purdue's resources from unauthorized use from both internal and external sources.

I2A2 at Purdue University depends on the existence of a unique identifier called the Purdue University Identifier (PUID) number. In the I2A2 system, every person who has a relationship with Purdue is assigned a ten-digit PUID. The PUID enables University electronic systems to verify a person's identity across applications at the University, and provides the person with a common key that can be used to identify the person to those electronic systems, authenticate that identity, and authorize the identity to use University electronic resources. It is important to note that while PUID alone cannot be used to gain access to any private information, when used with the proper authentication credentials the PUID can safely and securely provide access to private information.

The PUID number can be used in place of names in electronic transactions. This is necessary because an individual's name is not always unique. For example, two people, who both happen to have a name like John L Smith, will each be assigned different PUIDs and thus will be distinguishable in electronic transactions.

Every night, data files from the Student and Human Resource Service areas are sent to the PUID system. If a person is a new record (i.e., one to which a PUID has not yet been assigned), then the system assigns a PUID number to that person. If information exists that suggests that the person may already have a PUID, then a double-check system designed to verify that person's identity and PUID is initiated before action is taken on that record.

The PUID was introduced to the University in 1997. The PUID system was put into production in March 2000 and a PUID was assigned to any person who had a student or employee record at that time. Since that time, production applications have begun adopting the PUID in individual departmental, as well as enterprise applications, as a means of identification, authorization, and authentication. Students and Purdue University employees from all Purdue campuses are included in the PUID database. Beginning in October 2003, the PUID began appearing on Purdue University photo identification cards.

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