April 19, 2021 Trust, Risk, & the Future of Identity Verification – Talking Security with John Wheeler

Topcoder’s VP of Security, John Wheeler, joined Uprisor to discuss common security concerns people have about using on-demand talent. How can you trust members of the community? How do you protect your IP? And what does the future of work hold for identity and skills verification across talent platforms? 

If you’ve ever considered using on-demand talent and crowdsourcing, but had misgivings about how it might impact your IT structure and security, this episode is for you. John addresses these fears in depth, walking through Topcoder’s holistic approach to security—covering people, processes, and platform. Enjoy the conversation and check out highlights below.

How can you trust the community?

According to John, one of the most common worries business leaders have is the issue of how to trust people in the on-demand talent community. How do you know that the person you’ve brought on to work on a project, task or scenario is someone that you can trust, both in terms of proprietary information, but also in terms of reliability and dependability? 

Members of Topcoder self-select for the work they do, and John explains what that means for security. Basically – since Topcoder verifies identity, the wall of anonymity bad actors rely on is gone. It’s a high bar to get over.

As he puts it, “Hackers gravitate towards anonymity and subterfuge and they don’t want to be known. So once you make it clear that part of the terms conditions [of competing on Topcoder] is they’re going to be verified by their identity, that ensures we know who the person is.”

Crowdsourcing Truly Involves the Crowd

When we talk about using the crowd, it’s not just a one-for-one resource replacement. Part of the process and controls we put in place involve multiple individuals—multiple people participating in a challenge and submitting code, or having multiple reviewers. This enhances quality and security, and also creates a sense of self-policing and quality control within the community itself. This level of accountability and personal responsibility is yet another tangent of the human behavior element that plays such a prominent role in security and reliability.

the future of digital identity in the gig economy

The conversation closes by touching on some of the digital identity technologies and trends that are emerging and shaping the future of work. Topcoder is working on enabling gig workers to take the proof of work that they’ve done on the platform with them to other jobs. This proof of work is known as “entitlement”, and we’re starting to see other businesses enable portability of entitlement.

This was a great conversation about the nuances of security when using an on-demand talent. Thanks again to John for sharing his insights with us. For more future of work conversations, check out the Uprisor podcast.

“It makes a difference when you foster an environment that’s built around a meritocracy because people want to be the best. This goes back to the human element, the reason why this platform is effective is because we leverage the people’s passion and desire around being the best at a specific technology.” —John Wheeler, VP of Security

Annika Nagy


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