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Revision as of 12:08, 18 June 2018 by Tom (talk | contribs) (Transitive Trust)

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Full Title or Meme

Trust, simply put, is just the projection into the future of past behavior by an entity (person or organization) that has a consistent Identity over time.


Tom Jones 2018-06-15

Goals and Scope

The content on this page is intended to describe the tools to evaluate what can be trusted by an individual in a digital age.

The primary interaction of interest here is consumer to business (C2B); although a comparison will be made to business to business (B2B) and consumer to government (C2G).


There are two ways to approach the problem of trust in networked digital systems. Each creates there own distinct context.

Computer Engineering

The scientific approach looks for a set of laws that can be formulated and tested to provide the desired trust.

In B2B interactions studies have shown that there is an 86% level of correlation between level of assurance and trust. [1]

When this approach does not work in C2B interactions the computer scientist always try to blame the users and propose educating the users. This approach never winds up meeting the goals.

Social Engineering

The social approach to trust is exploited by con men attacking our human weaknesses every day. Creating trustworthy computer systems can not be overcome this sort of attack. One good example

Only a good user experience

Related Contexts

  • Federated Trust is a page that describes another way to address trust by the creation of a trusted sub-net where all members have been vetted by a mutually trusted third party.
  • Reliance is “the act of relying, or the condition or quality of being reliant; dependence; confidence; trust; repose of mind upon what is deemed sufficient support or authority.”[2] In this case trust that the actors will perform as expected.
  • Relying Party is web site that trusts the authority of some identifier providers' assurances or attribute verifiers in making their own trust decision to authorize some access by a user.
  • User Trust of a Web Site is a page that drills into the user experience at a web site that might engender trust.


The Philosophical Problem

The Psychological Problem

The philosopher Karl Popper defined the psychological problem The psychologist

Ethics and trust are inextricably linked. We are interested in ethics in large part because we are concerned, even obsessed, with the question of who we can trust is a world where there is risk and uncertainty. In our relationships, we humans are much more concerned about assessing trustworthiness of others than we are in trying to figure out how ethical they are. So what is trust and what is trustworthiness? The mountain image on right depicts our human situation of uncertainty.[3]

Our lives are embedded in human networks where we need to assess trust (see Trust Choice Schematic). The Decision to Trust Model (DTM Model) was developed (see below HBR 2006 article or Jossey Bass 2012 book) to help us make better decisions about discerning trustworthiness and even repairing trust.

Trustworthiness relates directly to ethics on two specific dimensions: integrity and benevolence. In brief: ‘‘A trustworthy party is one that will not unfairly exploit the vulnerabilities of the other party in the relationship.’’ (see Banerjee, Bowie and Pavone An Ethical Analysis of the Trust Relationship page 308 in Bachmann and Zaheer eds. Handbook of Trust Research in book chapter below).

Trust relationships exist at many levels: between two people, among members of a team, between teams, within an organization, between workers and management and even within an entire system, like the financial system or the air traffic control system. The further removed individuals are from the locus of the relationship, it becomes more complicated to assess trustworthiness. For example, how do you judge the trustworthiness of a bank or a financial system that is saving your money? We would like use a combination of personal and impersonal cues. For example, if we were making a trust judgment about a doctor for surgery, we might assess not only the doctor but also what hospital he or she operates in.

Transitive Trust

Since most of us do not have the capability to evaluate even a small fraction of the requests that we receive on a daily basis, we are compelled to trust things that are vouched by others as trustworthy. As one example, Microsoft has created a trustworthy computing initiative in 2002.[4] "Fundamental to that decision was the understanding that a company’s greatest asset is customer trust." It sounds like they want us to trust then with our computing decisions. Even for the most trusted decision of all, what software to run in kernel mode on our personal computers, they don't seem to be up to the task.[5]


Trust is earned. Where Ethics are lacking Trust cannot survive. They are reciprocal concepts[6] as high trust environments will encourage good ethics of participants and good ethical values in on-line interchanges will build trust.


  1. Muneesh Kumar, Trust and Technology in B2B E-Commerce: Practices and Strategies for Assurance Google Books IGI ISBN 978-1613503539
  2. Merriam Webster 3rd International Dictionary
  3. Trust
  4. Scott Charney
  5. CEO (unnamed) of Paramount Defenses, Alarming! : Windows Update Automatically Downloaded and Installed an Untrusted Self-Signed Kernel-mode Lenovo Driver on New Surface Device
  6. Linda Fisher Thornton Ethics and Trust are Reciprocal