There’s often a lot of wisdom in the phrase “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” But when it comes to the Internet in 2019, it’s not so wise. Early developers couldn’t have known that by 2017 it would be used by more than half the global populationi, or that the number of Internet of Things (IoT) devices will likely reach 25 billion by 2021.ii Security considerations focused on preventing physical failures, not cyberattacks. As a result, core Internet protocols were not built with security in mind. They have inherent vulnerabilities, making them a common target for cyber criminals.
Three modern-day challenges stand out:
Rise of the Sensors
The rise of the IoT has expanded the area of attack for enterprise networks. Large companies can be exposed at millions of end points. And the IoT is vastly increasing the technology component of all companies. This means putting “non-tech companies” in the technology business. They have now to manage processes they are not necessarily familiar with like software updates and patching. If not done right it may expose them to vulnerabilities.
The Identity Crisis
“On the Internet, no one knows you’re a dog.” But how do they know you at all? Increasingly, it’s difficult to authenticate identities and confirm data integrity on the Internet. Most individuals who use the Internet have multiple online identities; the average Internet user today manages 27 passwords, up from six in 2006.iii In this environment of content over context, Internet users are less able to work out the origin of material they access and whether it is valid. But the challenge of authenticating identities and confirming the integrity of data on the Internet also presents a key opportunity for the C-suite to renew trust in the digital economy.
A Fragmented Digital World
Greater fragmentation of the Internet, due to data localization laws, is another influential factor. This trend, driven partly by national security concerns, could by itself stunt future global economic growth. Walled gardens (isolated, secured information systems) are multiplying as countries and regions curb the free flow of data across borders through data localization regulations. Already 13 countries—accounting for 58 percent of the global gross domestic product—have some version of these regulations.iv
When our recent research surveyed 1,700 C-level executives from companies with annual revenues of US$1 billion or more, we found that most of them said a trustworthy economy is critical to any organization’s future growth. And there’s a tangible reward; a trusted digital economy could prompt 2.8 percent in additional growth for large organizations over the next five years. This translates into US$5.2 trillion in value creation opportunities for society as a whole.
Ceo’s must work towards building a trustworthy digital economy that safeguards our future prosperity.
So how can CEOs oversee changes that matter today and drive trust for tomorrow’s digital economy? By joining forces with other CEOs, public sector leaders and regulators, they can develop much-needed guidelines and ways to govern globally.
They can actively protect their own organization with a business model that runs on digital trust. Finally, they can safeguard their business ecosystem, embracing technologies that can boost their businesses and enhance digital safety.
If you’re interested in knowing more about this topic, take a look at our report “Securing the Digital Economy: Reinventing the Internet for Trust.” CEOs can drive a trust turnaround for the Internet by thinking “it ain’t broke yet—so let’s reinvent it now.”
About the research:Accenture Research conducted a survey in October and November 2018 across 13 countries; Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, Spain, Switzerland, United Kingdom and the United States. We undertook in-depth interviews with CEOs, COOs, Chief Innovation Officers and Chief Strategy Officers and analyzed more than 11,000 unique transcripts from S&P global organizations.