You Don’t Have to Sacrifice Security for Convenience to Establish Digital Trust

Let me just start by saying, “I’m sorry.” That’s right, you heard me. “I’m sorry.”

If you continue to read this, you are bound to see some industry buzz words sprinkled about: phrases like digital transformation, data breach, frictionless user experience, machine learning and — wait for it — blockchain. I’m not proud of it. But at the same time, I don’t want to lead you on. I want to be honest with you.

I mean, let’s face it, if I wasn’t honest, how could you ever trust me?

Establishing Digital Trust in a Distrustful World

In today’s world, it is more difficult than ever to establish digital trust with people — the people who work for you, the people you partner with, the people you do business with and even your own customers. Nearly every organization is embarking on a journey of digital transformation and, more often than not, we are trying to get to know who people are without the benefit of physical interaction.

In the past, we would try to establish the digital identity of a person by asking security questions such as:

  • What was the first car you owned?
  • What is your mother’s maiden name?
  • Which street did you live on in 1997?

But those questions don’t provide any level of assurance anymore. That approach is so, well, 1997. We are living in a world where there is a significant data breach seemingly every few months. In fact, since 2013, 1.1 billion identities have been exposed due to data breaches. With this amount of personal information available on the Dark Web, the only people who answer these security questions incorrectly are the legitimate users.

Imagine the frustration for a legitimate user when he or she gets these questions wrong. How long do you think the user will keep trying to answer the questions correctly before simply giving up? For an existing user, the best-case scenario is that he or she will call your help desk, which can drive up operational costs. But what if this is part of your new account creation process? You may have just lost the opportunity for a new customer, which could cost you real money.

Maintaining a Seamless User Experience

IBM Security’s recent “Future of Identity Study” found that respondents actually prefer security over convenience, particularly for their financial apps and accounts. Moreover, younger generations expect stronger inherent security from their providers and are more likely to switch providers in the aftermath of a breach. Still, users expect a frictionless user experience, and organizations need to be able to establish digital trust without sacrificing convenience.

The good news is that cybersecurity vendors have been crafting new ways make your digital channels more secure without putting your users through a poor user experience. So whether you work in the office of the chief information security officer (CISO), the digital experience team or the fraud management team, it is in your best interest to know what to look for to build a digital trust platform. Consider these three key components:

  1. Multilayered view of the user. People are engaging with your business across multiple channels, such as the web, mobile platforms, a call center or even a physical location. A multilayered view helps you correlate a user’s activity to protect against sophisticated attack methods while still delivering the best user experience.
  2. Expertise augmented with artificial intelligence (AI). Machine learning can help security teams detect anomalous behavior and sniff out zero-day attacks. Organizations often lack the resources and skills to keep track of and protect against emerging threats. Leveraging industry expertise in AI can help maximize your protection and free up your staff to innovate.
  3. Extensible and scalable cloud platform. Cloud-based solutions offer many potential benefits, such as lowering operational costs. To establish digital trust, you must be able to take advantage of common data sources and shared insights, which is often not feasible in the on-premises world. You need the flexibility to rapidly update your protections, whether that is implementing new risk policies or enabling new authentication methods to satisfy customer preferences.

Laying the Foundation for a Trusted Digital Identity Network

Another trend starting to gain traction is the concept of a trusted digital identity network. A lot of progress has been made in the last 12 months: Practical, real-world use cases are underway, and new open standards and communities, such as the Sovrin Alliance, are emerging.

In addition, technologies such as blockchain are laying the foundation to give the ultimate control of identity back to the people. Self-sovereign identity and business identity networks promise to improve the level of assurance that organizations have with all people they engage with, establish that much-needed digital trust and support the ultimate end-user experience. How you choose to establish digital trust will be critical in this next phase of your business.

Watch the full session from Think 2018: Establishing Digital Trust

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Jason Keenaghan

Director of Offering Management, IAM & Fraud, IBM

Jason Keenaghan is the Director of Offering Management for IBM’s IAM and Fraud portfolio. In this role, he is responsible for the strategy and delivery of advanced identity governance, access management, and the convergence with fraud and user risk. Previously, Jason worked for DataPower Gateways as a Product Manager focusing on web, mobile, API, and B2B security. Throughout his career Jason has accumulated an extensive amount of experience in architecting high volume transaction processing systems, specifically leveraging IBM Z. JJason graduated from Boston College with a Bachelor's degree in Economics and a minor in Computer Science. He also holds an MBA from Marist College.