Building digital trust to achieve digital transformation

Prashant Jain

The internet has become our world today. Devices are ubiquitous. There’s in fact a very thin line between personal and work connectivity, and with the pace of digital transformation accelerating, there’s an increasing surface area of how governments, enterprises, businesses, people, and things are connected.

It is against this backdrop that “Digital Trust” must be perceived as an imperative business essential. Digital Trust is one of the most important aspects which enables us all, as users & consumers have the highest level of confidence about the things we are doing online — interactions, transactions, or business processes — are safe & secure. India is undergoing exponential growth in connectivity, and we are also noticing an increasing volume of threats in the global cyber security space. These are, of course, imminent dangers and unavoidable risks.

India alone has witnessed over 18 million cyber-attacks and threats, with an average of nearly 200 thousand threats every day, in the first three months of 2022, making it imperative, that Digital Trust must now be embedded in IT architectures that are themselves more complex than ever. It is time to look at security-by-design instead of security-by-compliance.

How to become digitally focussed?
Moreover, with the increased adaptability of cloud & cloud services, hybrid workloads and IT/OT convergence has changed our perception of being connected or not connected. DevOps, continuous integrations, and continuous development pipelines have blurred the boundaries between traditional IT operations and development. Pandemic has brought remote working/work from home.

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This has further altered the ways, means, methods, and manners of gaining corporate access and provisioning. Fuelled by this, Zero Trust network architectures have materially expanded the need for authentication and the feeling of being secured.

Organisations today rely on online services to communicate and exchange information with their customers, partners, employees, and so on… By and large, every such service/communication is exposed to the internet and of course the risks associated with it in the connected world. Every organisation needs to build its own employees and internal operations, for its customers, partners, and extended communities.

Best practices
There are 3 key pillars upon which Digital Trust is built. Identity Authentication is the first building block. Be it for an individual, a business, an employee, a contractor, a machine, a workload, a container, or a service. Integrity is the next one that provides an assurance that “the object” has not been tampered with. Lastly, the encryption of data, whether in transit or at rest.

We need to ensure that the website/web application we are transacting with is authentic and secure. The email we are receiving is authentic and not spoofed. The signatures on the digitally signed document are valid and trustworthy. The software, being downloaded has not been compromised. The individual/entity who they claim to be is really who they are. All such things discussed here are delivered through digital certificates that bind cryptographic keys – symmetric & asymmetric to an identity.

This Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) helps organizations establish trusted identity, integrity, and encryption between people, systems, machines, devices – practically everything.
PKI provides the foundation for Digital Trust. There are essentially 4 Key building blocks to Digital Trust.

Standards: Industry standards and best practices define trust for a given technology, service, or industry.

Compliance & Operations: Adhering to Regulatory Compliances and Operations are the set of activities that establish trust. These could be a set of policies and audits that verify that operations are being conducted according to the standards set by a governing body. Operations, with datacentres at their core, verify certificate status through OCSP or other protocols.

Trust Management: Enterprises are increasingly relying on Certificate Lifecycle Management (CLM) to manage trust. A scalable CLM solution reduces business disruption from certificate-related outages; reduces rogue activity by driving adherence to corporate security policy, and reduces the administrative burden of managing certificate lifecycles and other enterprise identities through business process automation.

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Connected Trust: Enterprises must find ways and means to extend trust into complex supply chains or ecosystems. Examples include ensuring continuity of trust throughout a device lifecycle, across a software supply chain, or in the establishment of digital rights provenance in a content community. These 4 building blocks, with PKI at their foundation, deliver the fabric of trust that we all depend on to operate in the connected world.

Building a robust and scalable Digital Trust is an integral part of the security and risk function, protecting an enterprise from imminent cybersecurity threats. It is an indispensable component of achieving digital transformation, enabling enterprises to enable critical processes and services to go online and create new forms of inter-organisational connection.

Verified mark certificate
This newly introduced digital certificate verifies and sends the sender organisation’s logo in every outgoing email. This is another mechanism of establishing Digital Trust and creating authenticity using a BIMI Record. In the BFSI world, where a lot of communication is sent around notifications, alerts, reminders, and promotions. By building a new way of Digital Trust, besides creating more brand impressions, the deliverability and the open rates increase as your email communication stands out from the clutter.

Views expressed by Prashant Jain, Founder, JNR Management Resources Pvt. Ltd.

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