Government websites top the charts for online trust

Trust card

The Internet Society's Online Trust Alliance (OTA), which identifies and promotes online security and privacy best practices, announced today the results of its latest Online Trust Audit and Honor Roll.

The Audit finds that 70 percent of analyzed websites qualified for the Honor Roll, the highest proportion ever, and up from 52 percent in 2017, driven primarily by improvements in email authentication and session encryption.


Perhaps surprising is that the US Federal government category has surged to the front with 91 percent of sites placing on the honor roll, a dramatic turnaround from 2017 when government sites had bottomed out at 39 percent recognition. The Federal category supplanted last year's winner, consumer services, which finished second this year at 85 percent (OTA considers consumer services to be any website that requires consumers to create an online account such as social media, payment services, video streaming, file sharing, or dating).

"From the global economy to daily individual interactions, more and more of our lives are conducted online. Yet every day brings headlines showing a lack of attention to consumer data and privacy protection," says Jeff Wilbur, technical director of the Online Trust Alliance. "The OTA Trust Audit and Honor Roll identifies organizations that place a premium on security and privacy, while shining a light on the sectors that have to work harder to earn society's trust."

Healthcare, a new sector this year that includes pharmacies, testing labs, insurance companies, and hospital chains, has the lowest overall honor roll placement at 57 percent. Followed by ISPs, carriers, hosts and email providers at 63 percent.

Overall, the audit finds a strong move toward encryption, with 93 percent of sites encrypting all web sessions (compared to only 52 percent in 2017). Email authentication is also at record highs; 76 percent of sites use both SPF and DKIM (versus 48 percent in 2017) and 50 percent have a DMARC record (versus 34 percent previously). One growth opportunity is use of mechanisms for vulnerability reporting, which have risen sharply in online retail, news and hosting companies, but are used by only 11 percent of organizations overall.

You can see the full Honor Roll on the OTA website.

Photo Credit: Gajus/Shutterstock

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