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Posted By:  ECT News Network on 07/08/2017 in Security

Consumer Services Sites More Trustworthy Than .Gov Sites: Report

Consumer Services Sites More Trustworthy Than .Gov Sites: Report

The Online Trust Alliance in June released its 2017 Online Trust Audit & Honor Roll.

Among its findings: Consumer services sites have the best combined security and privacy practices.

FDIC 100 banks and U.S. government sites are the least trustworthy, according to the audit.

The number of websites that qualified for the Honor Roll reached a nine-year high. However, the audit identified an alarming three-year trend: Increasingly, sites either take privacy and security seriously and do well in the audit, or they lag behind the industry significantly in one or more critical areas.

About the OTA Audit and Honor Roll

The Online Trust Alliance is an Internet Society initiative to promote best practices for online trust. Its goal is to set standards for recognizing excellence in online consumer protection, data security and responsible privacy practices.

Researchers analyzed about 1,000 predominantly consumer-facing websites for site and email security and privacy practices.

Fifty-two percent of analyzed websites qualified for the Honor Roll, representing a 5 percent improvement over 2016.

"Data is the 'oil' of the Internet economy. It is fueling innovation, growth and revenue. At the same time, if abused there is a risk of data spills, negatively impacting user expectations and ultimately the Internet at large," said OTA Chairman Emeritus Craig Spiezle, founder of the group. "The OTA Trust Audit & Honor Roll underscores the urgency to embrace responsible security and privacy practices. Failure risks a long-term impact to the Internet."

Consumer Trust Challenges

The annual OTA audits provide a valuable service, especially given the growing number and extremity of online threats, noted Charles King, principal analyst at Pund-IT.

However, it is not very likely the report will help fix what hampers e-commerce today, he said.

Top 3 Performers

The OTA audit scored the percentage of websites making the Honor Roll in six categories:

  • Consumer Services -- 76 percent. This industry held onto its ranking as the best performing on the Honor Roll. This segment accounted for 26 of the top 50 consumer-facing sites, or 52 percent.
  • Internet Retailers -- 51 percent. Half of the top 500 Internet retailers made the Honor Roll this year, representing a big improvement over last year's score of 44 percent. This segment accounted for 10 of the top 50 consumer-facing sites, or 20 percent.
  • News and Media -- 48 percent. This marks the most significant improvement over the previous year, across all industries. Last year, media and news sites polled as the worst-performing sector, with only 23 percent making the Honor Roll. This segment accounted for three of the top consumer-facing 50 sites, or 6 percent.

"OTA's audit continues to drive awareness and recognition about the importance of responsible data security and ethical privacy practices," said Olaf Kolkman, chief internet technology officer of the Internet Society. "The increase in sites embracing end-to-end encryption shows it is becoming the norm for site traffic."

Bottom 3 Performers

Here are the sectors bringing up the rear in the audit:

  • Internet Service Providers, Carriers, Hosters & Email Providers -- 46 percent. Coming in slightly worse than News and Media, this industry segment debuted as a new category this year. This segment accounted for seven of the top 50 consumer-facing sites, or 14 percent.
  • Government -- 39 percent. This percentage of audited U.S. federal government sites showed a significant decrease from 46 percent making the Honor Roll last year. Note that 60 percent of government websites received failing grades this year.
  • FDIC Banks -- 27 percent. This industry segment reflects the biggest drop this year. Last year, 55 percent of this category qualified for the Honor Roll.

The FDIC Banks category had showed steady and significant improvement in its Honor Roll score until this year. The plummeting score resulted from increased breaches, low privacy scores, and low levels of email authentication. Sixty-five percent received failing grades, according to OTA.

Read more about the OTA report’s methodology and results on LinuxInsider.

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