Digital trust essential to enterprise business prosperity

Since January 2005, there have been more than 150 million identity breaches in the U.S. alone, and there is a growing market exploiting online theft. The average credit card, with personal identification number, carries a street value of nearly $500, and the stakes are exponentially higher for corporate intellectual property.

For years, corporations have developed comprehensive risk management plans and spent millions of dollars using technology to protect their organizations and business transactions. Despite this, threats are increasing and major security breaches continue to wreak havoc on reputation and finances. How is the game changing? Is it possible to get ahead?

“Until recently, IT security has been looked at as ‘defending the enterprise’ and a cost of doing business — nothing more,” said Ron Knode, a leading security expert and primary contributor to “Digital Trust: Shaking Hands with the Digital Enterprise,” a new report issued by Computer Sciences Corporation’s (NYSE: CSC) Leading Edge Forum. “In today’s world, where security is essential to trust, and lack of trust can rapidly erode consumer, partner and shareholder confidence, the mindset is changing. Leading thinkers have discovered that real security relies on the conscious, proactive development of trust, and those that establish it not only address risk effectively, they achieve business gain.”

The report refers to this form of trust as “digital trust” because it’s more than just a feeling of confidence. It involves communicating openly about how security functions work, continually demonstrating trustworthiness and involving customers and business partners in the effort. Unlike the secrecy of risk management, digital trust requires transparency.

“Digital trust surpasses efforts aimed at creating merely a feeling of trust by establishing a virtual handshake,” said Knode. “This handshake helps establish trust and builds both confidence and relationship. These aspects create preferred providers who get repeat business and referrals. They’re also the most likely to retain your business in the wake of a security breach.”

According to the report, information risk management and digital trust are two sides of the same coin. However, while the former is described as: “Defend what you have” and “Reduce the chance of ‘bad stuff’ happening,” the latter is defined as: “Increase the value of what you have” and “Improve the chance of ‘good stuff’ happening.”

“Adopting a digital trust strategy automatically gives you the benefits of the risk management approach,” said Knode. “It’s a case of the best defense being a good offense, and, while the full strategic benefits are yet to be seen, several of the companies described in the report are achieving return on investment. The payoff potential is definitely there.”

The report, which will be published as a series of articles, provides in- depth analysis of risks and offers both industry-specific examples and tips/guidelines. The first article, an overview of the topic, is available over here.

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