Nowadays, convenience is everything, and companies are racing to digitize their businesses to stay competitive and enhance the customer experience. Whether purchasing automobiles or signing for mortgages from the comfort of home or transferring large sums of cash through mobile banking rather than in-person, consumers and businesses are embracing today’s digital transformation, but that doesn’t mean it comes without risks.

What many consumers and organizations are failing to see is the growing threats that high-value digital transactions bring. Both big and small companies across all industries globally are now confronted with seemingly endless flows of sophisticated security threats. From identity fraud to hackers breaching firewalls to nation-state espionage, consumers must pay closer attention than ever to whom they interact with in this digital world. Companies that prioritize end-to-end security across every digital transaction will not only set their company up for success but protect each and every customer along the way.

Embracing the digital economy to boost the customer experience

The digital economy is an umbrella term that demonstrates how traditional brick-and-mortar activities, such as doctor’s appointments and banking, are being transformed by the internet. It is the economic activity that results from millions of everyday online connections among people, businesses, devices, data and processes. It can be segmented into three main groups: e-business, e-business infrastructure and e-commerce. While the digital economy is built on innovation and technology, it would be nothing without consumer buy-in and requires the highest level of secure infrastructure to truly flourish.

With markets saturating rapidly and business models evolving to embrace the digital economy, companies must strike the right balance between security and the customer experience. The need to ensure positive and secure customer interactions across every touchpoint has never been clearer — especially as more important and high-value purchases are made online. When conducting business, even just one seemingly small security breach can damage reputations and the customer experience, causing consumers to cut ties entirely. Ultimately, it simply comes down to providing customers with exactly what they’re asking for, which is an improved digital customer experience that also provides secure interactions.

To keep the digital economy thriving, high-value transactions online secure and the customer experience at the forefront, digital trust must be a top priority — especially in 2023 as the new era of the internet, Web 3.0, emerges. For perspective, 47% of consumers have stopped doing business with a company after losing trust in its digital security, despite 100% of enterprises saying digital trust is important to them, according to a DigiCert report. Digital trust is under attack, and vendors must manage and implement strong security infrastructure accordingly in an effort to uphold customer confidence and provide proper protection.

Industries under attack

Threat actors prey on processes that people feel most familiar and comfortable with. With in-office appointments and face-to-face interactions seemingly of the past, there is a tendency now to further lean on mobile apps, online retailers and digitized documents. During the pandemic, healthcare organizations were forced to quickly digitize, ramping up technological capabilities to meet the needs of patients — namely through virtual appointments and other telehealth offerings. However, in most cases, security was severely neglected — not for convenience, but to continue essential services as the world shut down. Today, convenience is now a patient demand, hackers understand how to take advantage of such virtual practices and the industry has yet to widely implement the security measures needed to combat these growing threats. As a result, there have been massive increases in data breaches coming from all areas of healthcare on a global scale — most notably, Australia’s largest health insurance provider, Medibank, suffered a data breach that compromised almost all of its four-million customers. There has also been an increase in phishing, social engineering and ransomware attacks that we expect will continue into the new year.

Another industry that is seeing serious risks is the online automobile industry. Consumers seek out the internet to find the cheapest auto prices, comparing websites and discounts while exploring affordable alternatives like Carvana. That goes for dealerships, as well, putting less stock on the lot and facilitating online purchases directly for customers. But with new consumer behavior comes new challenges and blind spots — and the online car buying process needs a revamp when it comes to cybersecurity. In fact, a report by Upstream Security Ltd., found that half of all auto cyberattacks in history occurred in 2021 alone — up nearly 140% from 2020. To combat this, companies must put the right protection in place to ensure customers are secure throughout the entire online experience — especially with auto loans also being a top identity theft target.

Steering clear of cyber risks

Cyberattacks occur every 39 seconds, with total damage reaching $6 trillion in 2022. For high-value transactions, continuous authentication and identity verification are key across all industries – whether applying for a loan, submitting an insurance claim or streamlining signature processes. Companies must validate that a person or business entity is who they say they are — not just at the onset of a digital process, but throughout the transaction. To do this, enterprises need to set winning conditions for the best security, from end-to-end, so their customers’ transactions are not left vulnerable to hacking.

To ensure continuous authentication and identification throughout high-value transactions, companies should first require customers to prove their identities upfront through means such as government-issued IDs. Once verified, all involved parties should be issued individualized credentials to gain access to the digital property — whether it be a website, app, electronic document or virtual environment. From here, organizations should guide customers and consumers through multi-step and high-assurance transactions over an interactive, secure virtual environment with various authentication methods. To execute and complete the transaction itself, the process needs to offer strong identity assurance, be equipped with capabilities like digital signature encryption and comply with the most rigorous security standards and regulations. Companies should then send contracts to both parties to abide by laws, such as the Electronic Signatures in Global & National Commerce Act (ESIGN) and the Uniform Electronic Transaction Act (UETA), to help ensure the integrity of the transaction and capture the audit trail. With digital signatures and e-signing now a common method when conducting high-value transactions, companies must leverage the most secure digital agreements technology to protect not only themselves but their people.

With the digital economy booming and the volume of high-value transactions online growing, it is essential that organizations — across a range of industries — take the time to implement new measures and educate themselves on how to best protect their customers. The future requires moving beyond a model that requires more than one-time authentication and verification. Multi-factor authentication and biometric solutions do some of this, but it’s not continuous, which leaves businesses and customers open to risk. Security needs to be woven throughout the journey, and it will need to be done seamlessly to avoid disrupting the digital experience that exists. Companies' bottom lines, futures and reputations depend on it. And customers will appreciate it.