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digital trust

Contributor(s): Jeffrey Ritter

Digital trust is the confidence users have in the ability of people, technology and processes to create a secure digital world. Digital trust is given to companies who have shown their users they can provide safety, privacy, security, reliability, and data ethics with their online programs or devices. When a person decides to use a company's product, they are confirming their digital trust in the business.

How does it work?

Digital trust divides dependable services from corrupt ones, helping the user decide on a secure company rather than an unreliable one. It creates a bond between a user and a company that assures the user they will be receiving what they are asking for in a safe, secure and reliable manner. The more digital trust a company receives, the more likely it will be to gain more users.

Digital trust is used by both digital service companies and their consumers. Users apply digital trust to the search process for a service or device. Consumers are more likely to use a company that is trustworthy than one that is unreliable. Companies aim to gain digital trust from consumers and use this goal to digitally transform themselves and create greater confidence in security, safety, privacy and reliability among consumers.

Digital trust is encouraging companies to focus on removing risk because it is something that negatively affects a consumer's confidence levels. Business leaders have started including cybersecurity and privacy personnel in their development process from the beginning, instead of ignoring them. This helps ensure the company is not avoiding security measures just to get their service or device on the market. Some businesses have also started adopting the zero trust model which decreases the number of opportunities a hacker has to access secure content by limiting who has privileged access to different machines or segments of the network.

Benefits of digital trust

The increased connection between businesses, government, industrial equipment and personal devices is generating increased cyber and privacy risks. Since most businesses are now working digitally in some way, their success is impacted by trust as much as it is by designing new products. As consumers share more and more personal information online with different businesses, they put more at risk and the importance of their confidence in the company increases.

Consumers are now placing more significance on the trust they have in a service and are looking for ways to ensure they are using the most reliable sources. This is forcing business leaders to reevaluate and transform the ways in which they are running their company and the processes involved in creating services or devices with greater security and reliability; the need for trust is creating a digital transformation (DX). Companies are beginning to focus on managing privacy and cyber risks and including privacy and security personnel in project plans and budgets.

Digital trust will allow customers to find and choose the dependable digital services faster, better and with less unreliable choices to distract them. Eventually, machines will automate the decision process by calculating the level of confidence in a program.  This will require more information to be provided about a company's service or product, creating increased transparency that will also build digital trust.

Digital trust in the IoT era

Internet of things (IoT) technologies have been displaying vulnerabilities across all industries. Consumers are losing confidence in the ability of manufacturers to produce secure, safe products. These devices are not being built with security in mind, thus opening them to the threat of hackers and data breaches. The companies are losing digital trust. Without trust, IoT will not be able to produce its intended results. In order to build confidence, IoT device manufacturers must first focus on improving the security in the device authentication process. Trust cannot be given unless the device has a solid authentication method which protects users from malware.  Then, IoT must protect personal, sensitive data shared on the device through encryption.

This was last updated in May 2019

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