Almost half of leading websites fail security and privacy tests

Web security

In an audit of 1,000 websites, including those of leading retailers, banks, social media, news and government bodies, 46 percent were found vulnerable to known online security threats.

According to the non-profit Online Trust Alliance, which conducted the study, sites belonging to Internet of Things companies are most at risk. The audit included the websites of 50 leading Internet of Things device makers, focused on wearable technologies and connected home products. 76 percent of these sites failed the assessment, while only 20 percent scored highly enough to qualify for the OTA's Online Trust Honor Roll.


Craig Spiezle, Executive Director and President of OTA says, "The results of this audit serve as a wake-up call to Internet of Things companies who are handling highly sensitive, dynamic and personal data. In rushing their products to market without first addressing critical data management and privacy practices, they are putting consumers at risk and inviting regulatory oversight".

The OTA evaluates websites based on dozens of criteria in three categories: consumer protection, privacy and security. While 46 percent of audited websites failed outright, another 10 percent didn't perform strongly enough to earn the OTA's Honor Roll status. This is an improvement, however, with 44 percent qualifying for Honor Roll status compared to only 30 percent in 2014.

Among sites that scored well, Twitter topped the overall ratings for the third year running. Top banking site was the USAA Federal Savings Bank and top government site the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC). The retail sector saw the largest increase in Honor Roll qualification, up from just 24 percent of evaluated websites in 2014 to 42 percent in 2015.

"Our audit and Honor Roll program rewards companies for a commitment to data stewardship, security and privacy policies that protect against cybercrime’s escalating threats," says Spiezle. "OTA commends the companies whose dedication to responsible data practices earned them a place on our list. At the same time, it is concerning to see others remain complacent, failing to embrace responsible practices year after year".

The full report listing all Honor Roll sites is available as a PDF on the OTA's website.

Image credit: Jimmi/Shutterstock

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