It’s Time to Build Trust into Digital Business Interactions

Sameer Hajarnis,

There’s a war on trust in the digital world and people are caught in the crosshairs. They’re the lifeblood of business but, simultaneously, they create the biggest attack surface with credential and identity theft at an all-time high. Everywhere we look there are identity risks with crippling repercussions for businesses, whether we’re talking about fake people, fake content, insecure web links that let unverified strangers into virtual meetings, and the list goes on.   

Case in point: Cryptocurrency exchange Binance recently revealed its chief communications officer was the victim of threat actors creating a deepfake of his own identity to scam members of the crypto community. Elsewhere, hackers targeted cloud-based Office 365 accounts of high-level executives, using both phishing and attacker-in-the-middle (AiTM) techniques to bypass multi-factor authentication (MFA) while sending fraudulent emails requesting financial transfers.  

Meanwhile, we’re in Web 3.0 of the digital transformation (digitalX) curve where companies are bringing entire digital product portfolios online. Massive volumes of high-value transactions are happening without physical interaction, from issuing credit to car sales, as the “anywhere economy” (the concept of doing and/or receiving anything, anytime, anywhere) has experienced a pandemic-induced surge. Customers, especially digital natives with purchasing power, expect experiences to be digital, seamless and frictionless. And while customer experience tends to be pitted against risk enterprise management and cyber security for organizations undergoing digitalX at warp speed -- it doesn’t have to be this way.   

Reconciling Risk Management & Customer Experience 

Today organizations of all sizes and geographic footprints are asking themselves a pivotal question: Can we de-risk our business processes while enhancing customer experience (CX) in the virtual world? To be more specific, I’m not just talking about CX enhancements but really about replicating human interactions online, in a trusted manner. This is an elusive combo for sure - but - it’s most certainly a necessary one as high-value transactions continue to skew digital. 

Security Can’t Lag Behind DigitalX 

We know that the speed of digitalX, while critical for businesses to survive and thrive, can create a dangerous chasm with security struggling to keep pace. Cobbling together various solutions to create a fabric to transact online creates seams. More digital interactions - with more complicated cloud workflows - demand fundamentally different thinking about how security needs to be woven into business processes. Security has to be seamlessly woven through the customer journey. 

Creating Connected Trust Along the Customer Journey 

Here are four tips for creating a connected thread of trust between the business and that user throughout their journey: 

  1. Know Your Customer. It all starts with knowing your customer (KYC), specifically knowing who they are and making sure you get that right as much as possible. Given the threat against identity, it's hard to make sure you KYC with 100% certainty.
  2. Continuously authenticate. The next step is to authenticate the user not only when they come online, but that you don't stop authenticating them once you let them onto the network. You have to continuously authenticate. It’s really important that digital business processes are protected pre- and post-authentication given the identity threats of today and tomorrow.   
  3. Bring the human element to digital channels. For high-value and high-touch transactions, businesses have a growing need for a secure interaction model with customers in a virtual environment, trying to embed human interactions.  
  4. Support secure digital collaboration. As mentioned above, a systematic approach to secure the digital customer interaction starts with the identity of the end user, the authentication, but from there, the virtual interaction model itself has to be secure. This is so much bigger than an electronic signature on a document. It's so much bigger than Zoom or Teams. It’s about creating a truly secure and globally compliant environment for virtual interactions and collaboration within the business workflow.  

Businesses shouldn’t be left to wonder if the investor joining a virtual meeting via a web link is the person they claim to be. Executives shouldn’t see deep fakes of themselves in places they never went and saying things they never said. Multi-million dollar business deals transacted digitally should not be subject to fraud fallout. It’s time to build trust in digital business, including all interactions, such that integrity reigns alongside customer experience.

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Sameer Hajarnis is OneSpan's Senior Vice President & GM of Digital Agreements. Sameer has more than two decades of experience in enterprise software and SaaS companies leading cross-functional teams, including managing business development, sales, strategic alliances, and customer success to improve the customer product and service experience.