Introducing the 2024 PKI & Digital Trust Report     | Download the Report

Fostering Digital Trust

PKI

The World Economic Forum(WEF) defines digital trust as such:

Individuals expect that digital technologies and services—and the organizations providing them—will protect all stakeholders’ interests and uphold societal expectations and values.

Another way to put it is that digital trust is the confidence people have in the safety and reliability of digital services. 

Businesses can assess customer loyalty, frequency of use, customer satisfaction, retention scores, etc., to gauge the digital trust in their solutions.

Our 2024 PKI & Digital Trust Report goes into why digital trust is so important, but the key takeaway is this:

As the complexity of cloud-based infrastructures, AI, and quantum computing threats increase, the simplicity and ease of securing digital trust decreases.

Most companies already struggle with PKI and certificate management — the technical DNA of digital trust — resulting in outages, compliance failures, and other security incidents.  

Achieving digital trust is a journey and not something that happens overnight. Wherever you are in your journey, you can cultivate digital trust by adhering to our 3 pillars.

The 3 pillars of digital trust

As technology becomes more advanced and impressive in its capabilities, the why of it all can get lost. Technology is always a means to an end. Your roadmap and progress toward digital trust should stand on these three pillars.

  1. Security and reliability
  2. Transparency and visibility
  3. Compliance and ethics

Technology and systems that uphold these pillars will be positioned to perform at their peak and unlock the benefits of society-wide digital transformation. 

1. Security and reliability

As the complexity of vendor ecosystems and software supply chains increases, so does the practical dependency on digital systems to work without fail. Systems must not only be resistant to attacks but also not faulty or inconsistent.

The CIA triadconfidentiality, integrity, and availability—provides a cohesive framework for information security. While Operational Technology (OT) and Information Technology (IT) often prioritize these elements differently, the future of the aforementioned ecosystems and supply chains will rely more heavily on all three aspects of the triad.

Security incidents, breaches, and outages can make or break a business’s future. A security breach that leads to acquiring sensitive customer data often results in financial penalties. Similarly, an outage can disrupt critical business operations, causing reputational damage and a loss of customer trust.

Beyond business processes, the stakes of security and reliability extend to physical safety through things like the operation of heavy machinery, medical equipment, or indirectly through the protection of social security and banking details.

Enhancing security and reliability through certificate automation

The key to improving security and reliability is to eliminate outages through better certificate management.

As certificate volumes rise, even one untracked certificate can cause significant problems with Public Key Infrastructure (PKI). Effective PKI management involves:

  • Tracking certificate lifecycles
  • Automating renewals
  • Ensuring all certificates are accounted for

Often, teams managing certificates are part of broader security, IT, or infrastructure departments with many responsibilities. By automating certificate management, organizations can free up time to focus on primary duties.

2. Transparency and visibility

According to Keyfactor’s 2024 PKI & Digital Trust Report, the average organization manages over 81,000 internally trusted certificates. Without comprehensive visibility, defending digital infrastructure, conducting forensics, or meeting compliance demands is impossible.

Decentralized PKI environments create problems such as:

  • Certificate sprawl
  • Shadow IT
  • Unsanctioned Certificate Authorities (CAs)

The root issue lies in the lack of centralized governance and reporting. Organizations will struggle to maintain control over assets without a unified system to oversee and manage certificates. A decentralized approach means gaps in visibility, making tracking, managing, and securing every certificate unrealistic.

To manage PKI, a high degree of visibility is necessary. That means having a clear view of the certificate landscape and having auditable and redressable processes.

Organizations that can track the history and status of each certificate for compliance and also rectify issues, secures a high degree of PKI integrity.

Achieving comprehensive transparency and visibility

Organizations need tools that centralize multiple certificate lifecycle processes into one hub.

For example, certificate management tools that consolidate various PKI functions enable tracking and managing certificates across the entire organization. These tools proactively discover assets within IT and OT environments, bringing hidden, untracked, and undocumented assets back onto the radar.

Full visibility provides the foundation for developing better policies. When an organization has a clear view of its certificate landscape, gaps and inefficiencies in processes become apparent. Knowing exactly what assets exist and how they’re managed leads to better strategies.

Furthermore, full visibility lays the groundwork for automation to strengthen PKI security and reliability. Insight into certificate status and management allows organizations to automate routine tasks such as:

  • Renewals
  • Überwachung
  • Compliance checks

3. Compliance and ethics

US laws and regulations are emerging that demand better consumer data protection along with timely reporting of breaches and other incidents. International regulations like the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and similar frameworks compel organizations to adopt rigorous data protection practices. Additionally, cyber insurance is requiring better auditing and forensics to ensure an effective response to and mitigation of breaches.

Compliance is not a simple box-checking exercise. These regulations are not merely bureaucratic hurdles; they are critical for building a digital ecosystem that results in digital trust.

Ethically speaking, it makes sense that a digital world that impacts everyone should work to serve everyone. That means interoperability, fairness, and seamless coordination.

Staying agile, compliant, and ethical

Improvement requires strategy and proactive execution. A good first step is to seek out vendors that prioritize flexible deployment and interoperability. By avoiding vendors who lock you into a proprietary suite of tools, you allow your organization to adapt to and integrate with other tech more readily. It also allows you to stay nimble in responding to evolving regulatory requirements.

For instance, compliance and ethics are paramount in the healthcare industry. Choosing a cloud service provider that offers flexibility with integration capabilities is necessary. Partnering with a vendor that supports open standards and APIs lets the healthcare provider connect with various e-health systems and medical devices.

Not being tied to a single provider makes it easier to adhere to compliance regulations and enhances the organization’s ability to adapt quickly to new laws or ethical guidelines.

It’s better to view compliance not as an end goal, but as a baseline to build your policies and practices upon. Taking this proactive approach to compliance involves the following:

  • Continuously monitoring the regulatory landscape
  • Anticipating changes
  • Adapting policies accordingly to stay ahead of the rising regulatory tide

Additionally, embracing a culture of ethics extends beyond regulatory compliance. It involves embedding ethical considerations into all aspects of operations, from data management to customer interactions. Practices such as ensuring transparency and fairness not only help comply with regulations but also build long-term trust with stakeholders.

Comprehensive policies that exceed basic compliance and ethics standards improve an organization’s ability to manage risks and maintain trust.

Schlussfolgerung

To truly appreciate the importance of digital trust, consider how seldom technology can fail before we lose confidence in it.

For example, the aviation industry sees approximately one crash for every 2.7 million flights, and of those crashes, only 5% result in a fatality — a testament to the rigorous safety standards and trust in air travel. However, even with the extremely rare failure in flight technology and systems, fear of flying is common.

Similarly, digital technology is only effective if people trust and use it. Even a small kernel of doubt can erode user confidence.

Digital trust requires ongoing building and maintenance. If users question the safety, reliability, or integrity of a digital system, they are less likely to engage with it and more likely to undermine its benefits.

Ready to learn more? You can schedule a demo to explore the methods and benefits of building digital trust in your organization.