An audit of more than 1,000 organizations showed website security may be improving, but the gap between those who excel in data protection and those who don’t is getting wider.

The Online Trust Alliance (OTA) released its ninth annual “Online Trust Audit & Honor Roll,” which lauded Etsy, Publishers Clearinghouse and Spotify, among others, for strong site security.

The 50 organizations on the honor roll were evaluated on areas such as data protection, privacy and transparency. To qualify, each entity had to earn a composite score of 80 percent or higher.

Chronicling Website Security Standards

Although there was a 5 percent improvement in overall website security since last year’s audit, with 52 percent of firms passing, the OTA report wasn’t all good news. Many firms either wind up on the honor roll or fail completely, a trend that’s been constant for almost three years now. Some issues that lead to failing grades include inadequate privacy policies and email systems with poor or nonexistent authentication.

IT World Canada examined the OTA Trust Audit and noted that some industries fared far better than others. Retailers, perhaps because they are more consumer-facing, tended to score quite well. However, only 27 percent of banks audited made the honor roll, versus 55 percent last year.

On the bright side, news and media sites showed a major uptick in website security, proving that it’s possible for entire sectors to put in the effort required to win back consumer trust.

Drawing Attention to Online Standards

The OTA isn’t simply releasing its “Online Trust Audit & Honor Roll” via the web. Inside Cybersecurity reported that the organization is also planning a congressional luncheon on June 27. At the event, CISOs and public policy officers will discuss the research findings and recognize members of Congress who are making website security a more high-profile issue.

While the OTA has been advocating stronger website security standards for years, the latest “Online Trust Audit & Honor Roll comes just a few months after the organization merged with the Internet Society. As The Register reported, many OTA initiatives, including its “Internet of Things (IoT) Trust Framework,” are expected to continue despite the combination of the two entities.

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