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How to Detect Fake Anything in a Zero Trust World

by Avivah Litan  |  June 11, 2020  |  2 Comments

Trust Nothing and Verify Everything

That’s the message we all need to absorb loud and clear in our minds, and better yet in our systems.

Fake News is incenting violence and helping destroy our democracy. Fake Pharma makes people sick and can even kill them. Fake Supplies rip consumers off and take revenues and trust away from the real brands they impersonate. Fakes, altered or illegitimate representations of the truth are everywhere and accelerating at a rapid pace, as we have too readily witnessed in just the first five months of 2020.

There’s really no good excuse for the situation we find ourselves in today.

Our just-published “Gartner Model for Truth Assessment” analyzes technical and human solutions that actually work, especially when combined and integrated. See How to Detect Fakes in a Zero Trust World Using Artificial Intelligence and Blockchain

Companies, like social media platforms, just need to invest in them, but most won’t since there’s no profit to be had doing so.  And we can’t count on governments to protect us from fakes, either because they are not up to the task or because they are not interested in doing anything about them.

Still there is hope, as long as there are financial and eventually — regulatory  — incentives.  One company, Bühler Mills already implements this type of truth assessment model, as noted in our published research, to promote human health and food safety while dramatically reducing waste and expenditures. Bühler Mills processes 65 percent of the world’s grain, and each day, around 2 billion people get their food through Bühler solutions.

Using a combination of existing and emerging technical and human methods, we can in fact weed out the fakes, the altered and the illegitimate entities from the real thing while saving money and promoting human safety and trust.

Figure 2 below from our Research Model shows how this can be done with Olive Oil.

The tools are not limited to olive oil. Different tools are tailored for different domains, including news, content, food, electronics, and pharmaceuticals, as documented in our research. Some of the most promising technologies such as spectral imaging analysis are still maturing, and are not yet ready for prime time. No doubt they will mature much faster, once market demand accelerates.

Leaving it to a consumer to figure out what is real and what is fake is not a scalable viable option, especially when consumers don’t control the end-to-end flow of their goods and content —  at least not yet.

This is one area where organizations have to step up to assist, until such time that public policy catches up. Hopefully these efforts will pay off in reduced costs and increased revenues. But even if they don’t, the softer achievements of boosting trust and promoting a safer society are worthy societal goals that many CEOs and corporations have started to care and talk about.

I readily admit: I need help knowing if the olive oil I eat and the news I consume is fake or altered. I just can’t possibly figure it all out on my own.  The tools are there – we just need the collective will to implement them.


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Avivah Litan
VP Distinguished Analyst
19 years at Gartner
34 years IT industry

Avivah Litan is a Vice President and Distinguished Analyst in Gartner Research. Ms. Litan's areas of expertise include endpoint security, security analytics for cybersecurity and fraud, user and entity behavioral analytics, and insider threat detection. Read Full Bio

Thoughts on How to Detect Fake Anything in a Zero Trust World

  1. Caroline Dennington says:

    Really great article Avivah and I am now going to check the label on my olive oil bottle and other goods in my larder!

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