"We really believe that trust and security is like a chain," Spiezle explains. "You're only secure as your weakest link."
"One of the areas that we're really pushing is the need to move from a compliance perspective to one of stewardshipfrom what you have to do to comply to what you can do that's above and beyond," he adds.
Twitter takes top consumer security, privacy honors
Spiezle notes that Twitter, which achieved the highest composite score of any of the companies audited, is an exemplar of that approach.
"Twitter is pleased to have earned the top score on the OTA Honor Roll," says Bob Lord, director of information security at Twitter. "By supporting Always-on SSL, Do Not Track, DMARC and most recently login verification, we aim to keep users connected securely to everything happening in the global town square."
Companies in the Social 50 outpaced both the IR500 and FDIC 100 two to one in the percentage of companies qualifying for the Honor Roll. Spiezle notes that companies focused on social tend to be much newer, which in turn tends to make them more agile, as they are less dependent on legacy technologies. Many banks and commerce sites are saddled with complex legacy sites and data centers that impede their ability to quickly adopt best practices.
Retailers improving adoption of best practices
Of the Internet Retailer 500, 26 percent achieved the Honor Roll, up slightly from 25 percent in 2012. Brooklyn, Oh.-based American Greetings, the world's largest publicly traded greeting card company, won the top score in the retailer category.
"Through an ongoing process we have evolved our data security and privacy practices from one of compliance to one of stewardship," says Joseph Yanoska, vice president, technology, American Greetings. "We're honored by the recognition the OTA has given us, and are committed to supporting their efforts. We share and embrace their approach to security and hope that it results in a higher level of trust from our customer base."
While retailers overall improved their rating in the 2013 audit, Spiezle says that 74 percent have not fully adopted best practices, and 53 percent of retailers that did not qualify for the Honor Roll failed to achieve passing scores in one or more categories, which unnecessarily exposes their users to security, privacy and social engineering threats.
Banks show most security improvements, still have long way to go
FDIC member banks showed the most improvement over last year: 25 percent of them made the Honor Roll in 2013, up from 22 percent in 2012. The banking sector also led in the adoption of EV SSL certificates with a 60 percent uptake rate. Retailers were second in the adoption of EV SSL, with a 33 percent adoption rate.
However, of those banks that did not qualify for the Honor Roll, 71 percent received failing grades in one or more categories, which OTA says it largely attributes to inadequate email and domain protection or outdated privacy policies with inconsistencies observed between their written policy and actual data collection observed.
As for top U.S. Government sites, OTA says they made improvement across all sectors in 2013, achieving 88 percent support of DNSSEC. However, OTA also found that these sites significantly lagged in helping protect consumers from forged and deceptive email and securing their sites from known vulnerabilities. Only 20 percent of government sites adopted both SPF and DKIM, and one-third received failing grades for their SSL server security.
"The 2013 report demonstrates how business leaders have recognized the need to move from compliance to stewardship," Spiezle says. "This is critical to consumer trust and to help stem the call for more regulation. The Online Trust Honor Roll report provides prescriptive and actionable guidance for businesses to move from a state of inaction to one which will enhance consumer protection."