Is Our Data Secure? The Truth About Being Online

A new report investigating some of the most visited websites in the US show that our data might not be as secure as we think it is.

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Data’s potential is now well-known in most industries and organisations, however a new report from the Online Trust Alliance (OTA) have shown that companies are neglecting the protection aspects of their information.

The OTA anonymously analysed over 1000 of the most visited websites in the US based on sectors such as: Top 100 internet retailers, top 100 banks, top 100 news sites, and many other segments.

Should a website achieve 80% or higher across the three categories – consumer protection, security and privacy – they would achieve an ‘Honor Roll’ status.

Overall, 52% of the tested organisations qualified for an Honor Roll award, an increase from last year’s 48%, a great accomplishment considering the OTA had increased their standards for judgement.

“The 2017 Online Trust Audit results positively surpassed expectations, reaching the tipping point of more than 52% of sites qualifying for the Honor Roll. This increase was significant in light of changes to the methodology, which raised the bar in every core area,” they said in their report.

However, the report found that 65% of major US banks had failed the strict testing process of the OTA, a worrying trend considering that FSI carries some of the most personal data of their customers.

The US Federal Government was another department which were unable to pass the tests with flying colours, another concerning industry due to the valuable information they possess.

The OTA implored the key industries to start picking up their slack and dedicate resources towards data protection online, and cited possible causes for the weak protection.

“The security oversights and inadequate privacy policies observed reflect the need to add resources in these areas.”

“These missteps often reflect a lack of ongoing security discipline, failure to take a user-centric view on privacy, and/or organisations not embracing data stewardship and responsible privacy principles.”

The report from the OTA once again reminds businesses, as well as consumers, that the information they hold is invaluable, and without a strong security system in place, it is very easy for that data to fall into the wrong hands.

“Increasingly data is the “oil” of the Internet economy. It is fueling innovation, growth and revenue yet if abused or spilled (breached), there is risk of a negative impact to trust and vitality of the Internet.

The Audit and failing grades by many sites underscores the urgency to embrace responsible security and privacy practices,” the OTA concluded in their report.