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Over two-thirds of consumer sites labelled untrustworthy

15th Jun 2014
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The internet, and the profusion of data that it collects, is celebrated for making traditionally complex practices a lot more simple and convenient. Unfortunately though, this does not solely apply to positive processes; it’s also now a lot easier for brands to put sensitive data at risk.

The Online Trust Alliance (OTA) carried out a recent audit to assess how well consumer websites are protecting their customers’ data and to what extent they should be trusted by consumers. The results were less than reassuring.

Out of 800 sites that were assessed, just 30.2% were found to be effectively safeguarding data, using best practices across the three crucial categories of domain/brand protection, privacy and security. That leaves the best part of 70% which failed to make the grade, with over half falling down in at least one of those three categories.

Of the top performing websites, Twitter shone out as the most trustworthy for the second year on the trot. As a group, social sites – which include social networking, gaming and dating websites – achieved the overall best results, with the highest average score and percentage of brands on the OTA’s Honor Roll.

“Twitter is honored to again receive the top overall award for the highest score on the OTA Honor Roll. It has become increasingly clear over the past year that companies need to be even more vigilant in applying security and encryption technologies like always-on-SSL, forward secrecy, and DMARC in order to protect their users, and we’re glad to partner with organizations like the OTA to raise the security and privacy bar,” said Bob Lord, director of information security at Twitter.

That said, however, this group interestingly also experienced the highest rate of data breaches in the last year at 18%.  

When it came to retail, it was a similar story of two sides. There seemed to be strong improvement in email authentication among this group, but privacy policies just weren’t up to scratch, with more than a third of the sector falling down in this area.

Among the lowest performing consumer sites were those in the news and media fields. Their poor results were thanks to inadequate email authentication and low privacy scores. Only 4% we’re trustworthy enough to make it onto the OTA’s Honor Roll, which is pretty dire when compared to the overall average of 30%.

“Our 2014 Honor Roll recipients have demonstrated a commitment toward responsible management of sensitive consumer data and privacy,” said OTA executive director and president, Craig Spiezle. “OTA commends the companies who made this list – but remains concerned about the failures of some of the world’s largest online brands.”

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