Why digital trust needs to be a strategic imperative for your company

It’s no secret that digital interactions have extended to every aspect of our professional and personal lives. Connectivity is soaring and digital transformation is accelerating, making it critical for the technology community, governments and corporate boardrooms to invest in digital trust.

digital trust

We’re witnessing an explosion of connected devices, with the number of Internet of Things (IoT) devices expected to soar from 8.74 billion in 2020 to more than 25 billion in 2030. Hybrid and remote work initiatives are putting a diverse array of devices into more workplace environments than ever. Remote employees require the right strategies to ensure they make trusted connections to the network and the data they share is safeguarded.

Digital transformation initiatives are also changing the nature of digital interactions. Deloitte reported recently that 77% of CEOs say the pandemic has accelerated their plans for digital transformation. Organizations are embracing new types of deployment architectures, including cloud hosting, containers, cloud services and DevOps cultures.

Society is now digitally connected, with online interactions foundational to individual and business communication, transactions and processes. In this dynamic environment, the need for digital trust has become more important than ever. Gartner reports that 53% of organizations remain untested in the face of today’s digital challenges, making their digital transformation readiness uncertain.

Ensuring trust has become more complex

As digital transformation has continued to accelerate, digital trust has become an essential requirement of online operations. Trust is the backbone for security in the connected world. It’s fundamental for securing users, software, servers, devices, digital content and rights, identity and more. However, corporate-wide initiatives around digital trust face an escalating array of IT and security challenges.

Identity and access managers are challenged by the increase in volume and methods of access for remote work and other use cases. More organizations are adopting Zero Trust policies as the underpinning of their corporate identity and access security.

Network, DevOps and OT Sec professionals are also facing new challenges, as the attack surface area grows. Securing the network perimeter alone is no longer effective, as cloud initiatives, DevOps, operational technology and connected devices shake up traditional security approaches.

Many organizations are turning to public key infrastructure (PKI) to establish trusted identity, integrity and encryption between people, things, and systems. It enjoys wide adoption for securing not only public web pages, but private internal services, including device authentication. Scalable, customizable, and cost-effective, it is rapidly being adopted for IoT use cases.

The evolution of digital trust

Together, these new challenges and trends have redefined our notions of trust. In the early days of the Internet, digital trust was focused on securing interactions and transactions between users and websites. Trust was established through TLS/SSL and other digital certificates.

As environments and interactions became more complex, the level of risk increased. The focus evolved to software that provides visibility and control to the management of public and/or private trust, such as certificate lifecycle management.

Today’s IT administrators are contending with more complexity and risk than ever, as the volume of PKI use cases grows and data validation requirements increase. These issues are compounded by shrinking certificate validity periods that add to their administrative workloads.

With today’s broader attack surfaces, extending trust is the new imperative. Today, smart solutions extend delivery and management of trust across supply chains and entities such as consortiums, connected devices, software supply chains and more.

Digital trust: the foundation for securing the connected world

Digital trust is based on the authentication of identity, for users, devices, workloads and services. It also requires integrity, to provide the assurance that objects have not been tampered with, as well as encryption to secure data in transit.

Digital trust is achieved by four key building blocks that help ensure the fabric of trust that we depend on for today’s digital transactions and interactions.

Four building blocks

Industry and technology standards: Industry and technology standards address requirements for web security, government policies, IoT applications, code signing, DevSecOps, financial PKI and more. They are supported by industry groups such as the CA/Browser Forum, IETF, ASC-X9, NIST, and the Matter standard for IoT use cases.

Compliance and operations: Compliance refers to the policies, audits and other activities that confirm that an organization’s operations are meeting the standards set by the relevant governing body. Operations activities in the data center establish trust by verifying the status of certificates, utilizing protocols such as Online Certificate Status Protocol (OCSP).

Connected trust in ecosystems: Organizations must also extend digital trust beyond their own processes and into complex ecosystems and supply chains. For example, they must ensure continuity of trust throughout a device lifecycle, or across a software supply chain.

Trust management—public and private: To support trust management for public and private environments, organizations are implementing specialized certificate management solutions and other software. These solutions minimize certificate outages that can impact business processes—an increasing concern as the volume of certificates grows. They also help organizations enforce corporate security policies and reduce rogue activities. These technologies automate business processes to reduce the time associated with manually managing certificate lifecycles.

It’s clear that digital trust is essential not only for security, but as a foundation for digital transformation. Organizations seeking to implement digital trust must take a strategic approach, embedding it in IT architectures and processes that are becoming increasingly complex. Device manufacturers must incorporate digital trust across the full lifecycle of their products.

Choosing the right technology partner is critical for a digital trust initiative. DigiCert is the world’s leading provider of digital trust, enabling business and individuals to safely engage online, and retain full confidence that their digital footprint is secure. Companies that take a strategic approach to investing in digital trust today will position their organizations to unleash the potential of digital transformation, and help support a more secure, connected world for their customers and the world at large in the years to come.

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