Digital Trust

Digital trust is a crucial part of today’s working operations and is particularly important in government and public service sectors.

Documentation and communication services must be watertight when dealing with data that is often expansive and sensitive.

Why is digital trust important?

ISACA anonymously surveyed around 50,000 individuals. These are what they reported as the biggest benefits of high levels of digital trust.

1. Positive reputation

Unsurprisingly, 66% of respondents reported that a high level of digital trust leads to a positive reputation for a company. As mentioned above, with 53% of customers in McKinsey’s survey only buying from companies with a reputation of protecting customer data, a positive reputation gives you a bigger customer base than with a negative one. In fact, according to McKinsey, digital trust leaders are 1.6 times more likely to see revenue growth rates of at least 10%.

2. Fewer privacy breaches and cybersecurity incidents

Nearly 60% of respondents reported fewer privacy breaches and cybersecurity incidents for digital trust leaders. McKinsey reports that they are 1.5 times more likely to mitigate data privacy issues and cybersecurity risks while experiencing 8% fewer data breaches in the last 3 years.

3. More informed decision-making

57% of respondents list more reliable data for decision-making as a benefit of high levels of digital trust. A good cybersecurity and data privacy posture helps ensure data quality and integrity by preventing alteration or loss of the data. Beyond mitigating data privacy issues, digital trust leaders are also 2.1 times more likely to mitigate data retention risks. Having trustworthy data allows companies to use their data wisely to make informed decisions in response to their present state, the marketplace and current or anticipated concerns.

4. Customer loyalty

McKinsey’s survey shows that digital trust leaders are 14% more likely to have “strengthen relationships with existing customers and acquire new ones by building trust” within their top three goals for digital-risk management.

5. Faster innovation

44% of respondents say digital trust begets faster innovation due to “confidence in their technology and systems.” Innovation requires sustained relationships from loyal customers and a good understanding of the market and consumer needs; this understanding can be obtained by using ethically harvested and well-maintained data. Companies and customers also need to feel assured that their systems and data are well protected, hence the importance of cybersecurity. Together, these factors inspire the confidence innovation requires.

Most businesses are failing to protect against digital risks

Our research shows that companies have an abundance of confidence in their ability to establish digital trust. Nearly 90 percent believe that they are at least somewhat effective at mitigating digital risks, and a similar proportion report that they are taking a proactive approach to risk mitigation (for example, employing controls to prevent exploitation of a digital vulnerability rather than reacting only after the vulnerability has been exploited). Of the nearly three-quarters of companies reporting that they have codified policies on data ethics conduct (meaning those that detail, for example, how to handle sensitive data and provide transparency on data collection practices beyond legally required disclosures) and the 60 percent with codified AI ethics policies, almost every respondent had at least a moderate degree of confidence that those policies are being followed by employees.

However, the data show that this assuredness is largely unfounded. Less than a quarter of executives report that their organizations are actively mitigating a variety of digital risks across most of their organizations, such as those posed by AI models, data retention and quality, and lack of talent diversity.

Augmenting PKI for more robust digital trust

In the early days of the Internet, digital trust centered on interactions and transactions between users and websites, secured with a public key infrastructure (PKI), a technology that delivers authentication, encryption, and integrity to a digital interaction. With digital transformation expanding the use cases for PKI, trust has now become the backbone for security in the connected world: for securing users, software, servers, devices, digital content, documents, digital rights, identity, and more.

The delivery of digital trust in our connected world hinges on four key elements:

  • Industry and technology standards that define what constitutes trust
  • Compliance and operations that govern delivery of trust
  • Software that provides management of public/and or private trust within an organization, with centralized visibility and control over digital certificate lifecycles
  • Extension of trust through ecosystems, such as across device lifecycles, software supply chains, consortiums, and more.

PKI is a powerful enabling technology for the three key pillars that make up the digital trust foundation. However, it’s just the beginning. To fully implement a trust initiative, organizations need additional elements, including standards, compliance and operations, trust management and connected trust capabilities.


Standards are what define the specifics of trust for an industry or technology. Some examples include the standards that certification authorities (CAs) must meet to be considered “trusted,” designated by vendors of Internet browser software and other stakeholders that utilize X.509 v.3 digital certificates for SSL/TLS, code signing and S/MIME. Other industry examples include the Matter standard for smart home devices and IoT platforms.

Compliance and Operations 

Compliance and operations make up the second element of digital trust. Regulations are constantly changing and evolving, and organizations must ensure compliance policies, audits and other processes to confirm that their operations fully conform to local laws and industry standards. 

Trust Management 

Trust management is increasingly essential to keep the growing numbers of digital certificates current. Trust management can minimize manual processes associated with managing certificate lifecycles, using business process automation. Trust management can also help ensure that organizations remain in full compliance with their security policies, by helping minimize rogue activities. 

Connected Trust

Connected trust is the fourth key element of digital trust. Connected trust helps organizations extend the final essential building block of digital trust, and helps organizations strengthen and extend the continuity of trust across complex device lifecycles, software supply chains and sophisticated ecosystems.

Today’s top IT imperative is digital trust

The Declaration of the Internet underscored the growing importance of the internet to today’s businesses and societies worldwide. The escalating volume of connected users and devices, together with increasing complexity, have elevated digital trust from an IT priority to a boardroom imperative. Today’s technology executives are focused on protecting not only their own businesses but their partner ecosystems, their end customers and ultimately, their communities. Crafting a robust digital trust strategy is key to assuring that our increasingly connected digital environments and processes remain safe and secure.

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