Trust in the Digital World

While Silicon Valley for years cultivated a keep government out of our business public face, fact is that technology innovation and government institutions have long had a productive and largely positive relationship.  Fortunately (I hope) for all things related to commerce and information exchange on the Internet, a growing cooperation in the area of trusted information systems is finding similarly fertile ground.

I recently attended a briefing and panel talk on the topic of the National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace (NSTIC).  This is a US federal initiative around the hugely complex topic of protecting privacy while providing security for identities and commerce online. 

What’s the point?  That’s easy.  McAfee’s CEO served up factoids to illustrate the size of the cyberthreat.  More than 55,000 new pieces of malware identified daily, with 90 percent of these meant to do harm (i.e., steal something). And up to half of all people online currently do not use any type of security solution when online.   And it’s not just about protecting individual privacy and commerce.  In the near future the Internet of Things and Smart Grid are potentially exposed to bad guys on the web.  Plugging the many potential security holes in these networks – which can lead to exploits against infrastructure systems and/or provide access to individual’s information – is an enormous task. 

InformationWeek did a good job of summarizing the Stanford meeting, where it was announced that the Department of Commerce would take the lead on government involvement with the initiative (good news there, since the job could have been assigned to law enforcement or intelligence agencies).  

Small Planet’s client Infineon plays a big role in providing an underlying hardware-based layer of trust for secure ID in both the online and offline space. So I’ve got professional interest in NSTIC and related activity. But anyone concerned with the issues of privacy, fraud detection/prevention and the vital role of the Internet in the world’s commercial infrastructure identification should take this work seriously.  There appears to be real interest in public/private collaboration and openness to input from anyone who has ideas or concerns about how to build a system that works. 

In other words, great ideas (and perhaps entrepreneurial opportunities) welcome.