To maintain their relationships, reputations and revenue streams, organizations must invest in earning "digital trust" in an era of ever-present cyber threats that weaken stakeholder trust. Digital trust is the confidence among customers, employees and partners, in an organization’s ability to create and maintain the integrity of all digital assets (e.g., data, applications) and to ensure transparency and accessibility, security, privacy and control, as well as ethical standards.
This task could be more difficult than ever as technology and digital threats are evolving. For example, artificial intelligence (AI) can be used to fake videos, images, or audio at the click of a button to impersonate individuals. Risks and challenges are high, any misstep can impact customer loyalty, financial performance and brand equity, ultimately undermining an organization’s ability to build and maintain trust. Surveys show — as per Consumer Survey: Trust and Accountability in the Era of Data Misuse — that 81% of consumers lose trust in a brand after a breach, while 25% completely stop interacting with it.
How Do You Enhance Digital Trust Today?
Organizations are looking to enhance digital trust today by investing in many common solutions; however, advanced solutions that may currently be limited to select industries or use cases have the potential to offer new capabilities. Digital trust advantages can be added by these advanced solutions rather than replacing existing cyber measures. So here are some keys that organizations can consider adopting today:
- AI-based data monitoring: AI could be applied to improve digital trust, especially when validating contextual data accuracy (because a flawed data model can severely compromise outcomes) and also governing data access and usage by participants across an ecosystem. Additionally, according to Gartner, traditional, time-consuming methods of identifying and cleaning incorrect, missing, or poorly labeled data cost an average of $13 million annually. Therefore, when an organization uses trust measurement and monitoring tools, leaders can make strategic decisions that help them improve trust.
Nowadays, AI-based solutions can detect missing data, anomalies, or unexpected data in real time. Emerging AI solutions are able to identify fake or manipulated documents, images and more. Such solutions can help build trust in the data, related processes and the insights generated from it. In addition, AI can improve identity and access management by preventing unauthorized data access and detecting abnormal user behavior or other risks. Spam filters based on machine learning (ML) reduce the risk of unauthorized access attempts via phishing or social engineering attacks to infect systems with malware or ransomware and gain access to data. A global ransomware study shows that 75% of respondents agree that behavior-based analytics is the only way to catch complex ransomware attacks. Artificial Intelligence isn’t a cure-all for digital trust, and it still has a lot of room to grow in fighting against some vulnerabilities. For instance, it can perform poorly when policing text due to its inadequate understanding of context. Additionally, unethical and biased AI is a digital trust issue in and of itself.
- Cloud-enabled data trusts: Data is the most powerful asset an organization possesses and the most urgently in need of protection; in other words, data is the new currency. In the same way that a bank manages and stores its customers' financial assets, a third-party data trust governs, controls and secures data usage and manages legal data rights for authorized parties. Data trusts are integral to use cases such as smart city engineering and securing sensitive financial or health data. As the Internet of Things (IoT) generates enormous amounts of data, data trusts are often valuable for helping organizations validate single sources of trusted information, improve data management transparency and add layers of privacy, all while improving brand reputation and reducing risks of data breaches and loss.
What Are the Innovations That May Transform the Digital Trust of Tomorrow?
Beyond infrastructure, for organizations to be future-ready, they must understand where technology is heading and be prepared for what will disrupt or enhance digital trust in the near future. Given their innovative and transformative potential for digital trust, blockchain and quantum technologies should be on organizations' lists by now.
- Blockchain: blockchain technology should be on every company’s radar as a tool to help authenticate identity and automate trust, given its innovative and transformative potential to support digital trust and safety. Moreover, it’s an independently verifiable and trusted digital ledger that preserves records of all contracts and transactions; it is already widely recognized as the mechanism that establishes asset ownership for cryptocurrencies and non-fungible tokens (NFTs). Blockchain also permits unprecedented public transparency and authentication to help display the source of published news and protect against piracy and copying of materials. And as a trusted technology, blockchain can reduce the complexity and risks an organization must endure when working with a vast network of trusted third parties.
- Quantum technologies: Quantum technologies will likely impact digital trust in three distinct ways. First, the immense computing power that quantum computers promise can be applied to perform vast analytics on cyber and privacy data to detect anomalous or suspicious behavior.
Second, quantum technologies may provide improved components for cyber systems, such as those used to generate and distribute cryptographic keys. And third, quantum computing may be able to implement “Shor's algorithm,” which can make some common encryption techniques easy to crack, thus making data and transactions more vulnerable to attackers.
In order to maintain digital trust, organizations must implement postquantum cryptography (PQC) — quantum-resistant techniques that use mathematical problems that are too complex for quantum computers to solve. By 2024, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) aims to standardize quantum-resistant algorithms, improving data privacy and making PQC more cost-effective.
When combined, these digital-trust technologies can boost your brand’s reputation and improve your operations while protecting your most valuable asset: your data.