Trust Or Not To Trust, What Choice Do You Have?

“Trust But Verify”

– Ronald Reagan, US President

Article Produced By: Sean Ofir and Boaz Fischer

Have you ever wondered whether “trust” is a given by choice or provided by default?

I’m sure you have often heard the saying “trust me, I’m the Doctor”. But, are you blindly trusting that person because he has a medical degree?

From the first moment we are born, we start to build trust.

It starts with the newborn who holds the overwhelmed mom’s finger and gets its first drop of milk. The baby trust unconsciously, and some can call it a surviving instinct.


When we grow, we build trust with parents, family members, develop friendships and trust our teachers, mentors and authorities that they are on our side.


Some of the trusts that we give out are by default

  • We send our kids to school with a school bus – Hoping they will get safe and stay at school all day. We also trust the teachers to care and watch after the kids.
  • When we buy coffee from the coffee stand or shop, we trust the coffee is made of fresh ingredients and is not septic.
  • When we go to the supermarket, we trust the food that we buy is not contaminated with bacteria or poisonous.
  • When we see a doctor, we trust their opinion, judgment and the treatment they offer.
  • When we board a plane, we fully trust that the pilots can get us safely to our destination.

Why do we blindly place our trust in the above examples? Do we really have any choice, or can we verify that trust?

Think about this. How do we verify a professional aeroplane pilot capability and credibility?

  • Should we just trust the person because they are wearing a pilots uniform?
  • Should we trust the pilot because they have passed many exams to be certified as a pilot?
  • Should we trust the pilot because they are gainfully employed by a well recognize airline carrier?

How does the industry instil confidence and trust?

It’s called regulation and compliance. No matter the industry or size of the organisation, all businesses must adhere to specific laws and regulations as part of the operation. This provides the necessary confidence to the public that the organisation can deliver goods and services to a minimum level of standard.

For example, some standards outlined for the food industry focus on the entire supply chain to ensure product safety.

Simply put, regulatory compliance is when a business follows state, federal and international laws and regulations relevant to its operations.

Confidence = Trust

And the more confidence we have with an organisation, a person or a system, the more likely interactions, transactions, communications and exchange will take place.


Some of the trusts that we give out are by choice

What is trust by choice? Trust by choice is the ability for us to decide whether we want to place that trust. For example:

  • When we shop, we trust the cashier but have the ability to check the bill to verify for accidental mistakes.
  • When we rent a house, we can inspect the building for faults or defects to report.
  • When we date someone, we have the ability to check online profiles, pictures and social media.
  • When we buy software, we check and verify that the software can do what it claims to do. Software vendors also enhance trust by allowing us to try the software for a limited period. We also seek social proof – what others have said.
  • When we decide to buy a car, we first do a test drive to see how well it drives. Buyers have also got the capability of searching online for social proof.


Importantly, effective trust-building requires knowing when and why to use it.

When the outcome is essential and matters more than the relationship, use “trust, but verify.” When the relationship matters more than any single outcome, don’t use it.

The phrase itself was made famous by President Reagan in the l980’s during the Cold War. It referred to information reliability and increased transparency related to nuclear arsenals.

So, what is the difference between the Trust of Choice and Trust by Default?

The answer is simple. Trust by Choice is allowed when we have some level of control and change capabilities. Trust by default doesn’t allow us to control the situation, and we have to accept it as final.

Let’s looks at the hiring process. Many organisations have a rigorous process for hiring new employees and executives. It starts with finding suitable candidates, interviews, clearance, background checks, social media activity monitoring etc.

These candidates will do everything to leave a great impression and guarantee that they are the best fit for the role and fo the organisation.

 Then, when finally chosen, the candidate is hired and join the organisation.

Once trust is given, and the employee is onboarded, the ongoing trust is by default and can last many years ahead. Their behaviour can and will change by the years and can turn them into more dedicated, negligent or even rogue.

At this point, they are trusted by default which put the organisation in a risk. 

Example: The Chief Technology Officer of Telstra (the largest Australian telecommunication provider) was sacked in 2016  after serving Telstar for 21 months, where he falsely claimed to have an MBA from Harvard, and plagiarised presentation content.

So, if you had to choose between Trust By Choice or Trust By Default, what would be your preference?


How Can We Help you?

Are you interested in identifying risky trust behaviour by your employee and trusted business partners?

Interested in identifying how your organisation can increase its effectiveness to prevent, detect, mitigate insider harm?

We can accurately implement a User Activity Monitoring Program to provide you with the visibility of whether your employees, contractors or any other insiders are misbehaving or placing your organisation at risk.  This is called Trust By Choice.

Contact us by filling out the form of the Naked Insider website:

What is User Activity Monitoring?

User activity monitoring is the technical capability to observe and record the actions and activities of an individual, at any time, on any device accessing organisation systems and applications. It has the ability to identify which user is presenting some level of risk and why.