ADOTAS – We are a connected world. Whether we like it or not, the Internet fuels businesses around the globe with lightning fast payment processing, the availability and convenience of cloud-based software and daily communications through email, instant message and social media. With so many businesses today reliant on Web-based technologies, website security and the preservation of data integrity are of critical importance – no matter if you are a Fortune 50 brand or an SMB retailer on the corner in your neighborhood.
“Trust is the foundation of the Internet — trust in the email we receive, trust in the sites we visit and shop with and trust in the ads we click on,” said Craig Spiezle (pictured), Executive Director & President of the Online Trust Alliance (OTA). “Already advertisers are questioning the metrics of online ads and click fraud, further hampering the growth and vitality of online advertising. Compounding the demise of the integrity of online advertising is malicious advertising (malvertising) and fraudulent activities. We are at a critical crossroads. Trade organizations are failing, defending practices while real harm and damages are occurring to consumers. We need accountability and this is a shared responsibility we all have.”
In its annual Online Trust Audit and Honor Roll research examining brand protection, security and privacy across 800 websites, the OTA has unearthed some startling findings for the industry, forcing us to re-examine online security approaches and best practices for businesses and consumers who conduct business online.
According to findings published today, the OTA has revealed that 71 percent of top consumer websites did not sufficiently follow online security and privacy best practices – deeming these sites untrustworthy since they open people up to potential data leaks, security breaches and privacy concerns.
“The findings underscore the importance of taking a holistic view of data security, privacy and brand protection,” said Spiezle. “Security and privacy requires ongoing focus and due diligence; being complacent and not proactively re-evaluating practices is a recipe for failure (as well as regulatory oversight and potential lawsuits). Our Online Trust Audit criteria are all based on accepted norms and best practices and achievable by organizations and sites of any size.”
The OTA research report examined websites in the retail, financial, government, social networking and news media sectors, taking a look under the hood at categories like: domain/ brand and consumer protection, site/ server and infrastructure security, and data protection/ privacy and transparency.
According to the 2014 findings, banking websites, online news sites and Internet Retailer 500 businesses were the industries with the highest percent of failing grades (65 percent, 62 percent and 57 percent, respectively). This comes as a shock for the industry since people often place their trust on online banking and eCommerce websites for secure personal finance and payment transactions. It seems these industries need to invest in improving their performance for consumers and businesses who rely on them to conduct business on a daily basis. Note that only New York Times and Google News made the honor roll for news media sites.
Conversely, social media platform Twitter received the highest score across all sectors for the second year in a row, followed by American Greetings who outscored all online retailers and eCommerce sites. Other top 10 scores in the Internet Retailer 500 include: Netflix, Ancestry.com, Big Fish Games, Books-A-Million, JackThreads, NewEgg, Sony Electronics, Zulili, ChristianBooks.com and Walmart.com.
“Data security and respecting consumer privacy are guiding principles for American Greetings, said Joseph Yanoska, Executive Director, Interactive Operations at American Greetings. “Trust is the foundation of our businesses and we are honored to be ranked number one among all ecommerce sites worldwide. We share OTA’s vision on the importance of collaboration, consumer choice, stewardship and self-regulation.”
“The future of online advertising is promising,” said Spiezle, “but unless the industry takes security seriously and commits to privacy-enhancing practices and security, there are serious concerns. Last year we confirmed over 209,000 malvertising incidents serving over 12 billion malicious ad impressions. Self-regulatory efforts are failing to address consumers’ concerns and the severity of data breaches and missteps continues to undermine the vitality and health of the industry. Trade organizations must no longer ignore the elephant in the room, and must commit to meaningful efforts.”