Information Sharing – A Question of Trust?
In the years since the attacks of September 11, 2001, government information sharing has received significant public attention. Much lamented failures to ‘connect the dots’ among scattered pieces of data held by different government entities became a rallying point for government reform. The doctrine of “need to know” gave way to the mantra of “responsibility to share.”
Many challenges confront the successful implementation of this credo, not least of which is the challenge of maintaining information security and appropriate access controls. Sharing classified, law enforcement sensitive, and other controlled types of information carries significant security, privacy, and legal risks. The vast quantities of data in play only further complicate matters. Striking the right balance in the era of Big Data requires new tools and methods.
Enter Trust Management. Trust-based approaches offer a potential solution to the problem of managing access when the number of users – and of systems and data sources – exceeds the effective capacity of traditional methods. Centralized, manual assignment of accounts and permissions cannot provide the responsiveness and flexibility needed for broad-based information sharing on a national scale.
Trust Management uses attributes like user properties, experience, and recommendations to derive individual levels of trustworthiness. Trustworthiness authenticates individuals and systems in the context of specific roles and permissions within those roles. Users do not have to wait weeks or months to receive an account with a complete access profile. Instead, they can begin participating in information sharing right away using initial access enabled by their affiliation, system compliance, and other baseline attributes. Over time, their roles and permissions can expand or contract based on their behavior and administrative input.
The Trust Management concept has proven its promise on social platforms like Reddit and commercial security protocols like TrustedSource. Government information sharing represents its greatest, and most promising, test yet.