Social Sites Top Banks, Retailers In Security, Data Trust

U.S. technology and media companies took a beating in the past year as malicious pranksters commandeered social accounts and hackers stole data. Social sites took precautionary measures to increase security, which helped increase trust among users. Twitter took top honors in the Online Trust Alliance 2013 Data Trust Honor Roll Report released Wednesday.

The OTA determined that social networks outpaced other sectors 2:1 when it comes to adopting privacy, data and security best practices. Aside from Twitter, 32% of companies qualified for the 2013 Online Trust Honor Roll, with the next top score awarded to American Greetings.

Although 26% of the Internet Retailer 500 made the Honor Roll, a slight improvement compared with last year, 53% failed to achieve passing scores in one or more categories, which include seven in 10 banks and half of top online retailers.

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The OTA measured three categories to determine the most trusted sites: site, server and infrastructure security; domain, brand and consumer protection; and data protection, privacy and transparency.

Overall, privacy scores climbed in all categories. OTA member companies led in each segment with an average of 83.7% increasing 5 points compared with 2012. More companies have begun to improve secure socket layer (SSL) and transport layer security (TLS) authentication and encryption techniques, helping to push up scores and secure data.

The results were determined after the organization audited more than 750 domains and privacy policies, 10,000 Web pages, and more than 500 million emails associated with the Internet Retailer 500, the top Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation member banks (FDIC 100), and top 50 social and U.S. federal government sites.

Last year, 2,644 breaches were reported worldwide, exposing 267 million consumer records. Three out of four online retailers and top 100 U.S. banks fail to adopt online security and privacy best practices. Some 40% of all data breaches were caused by hacking and 52% incorporated malware in 2012, according to the OTA 2013 Data Protection and Data Breach Readiness Guide.

Other companies and sites that are making a difference by applying best practices, consumer protection and self-regulation include Amazon, Big Fish Games, Bike Bandit, Books-A-Million, iHerb, JackThreads, Levenger Co., LivingSocial, Netflix, Ralph Lauren, and Rock Auto.

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