As part of its efforts to make the online world more trustworthy, Online Trust Alliance, a non-profit, reviewed more than 300 million email headers and approximately 8,500 web pages to determine which ones had done the best job of ensuring they would not open users to privacy and security risks.
The OTA has created guidelines around domain and brand protection, privacy, and security, and revealed what it found to be the most trustworthy sites in a report (PDF). Sites earned points for meeting criteria for each category. A combined score of 80 percent and 55 percent in each of the three main categories would qualify a company for the “Honor Roll.”
Based on sampling data collected from April 15 to May 23, 2014, Twitter ranked as the most trusted site, having received the highest scores across all sectors, followed by card company American Greetings which ranked as the top online retailer or ecommerce site.
Sites making the Honor Roll, however, ranged from large enterprises like Walmart, but also smaller ones like Books-A-Million, illustrating that the OTA’s best practices are achievable by nearly any company.
The OTA developed its criteria in collaboration with various working groups, the standards community and industry associations.
For instance, it recommends using SPF and DKIM email authentication to protect recipients from domain and email spoofing. It also wants sites to adhere to their published policies around the use of personal data, and how it is shared with third-parties. And it wants sites to properly configure SSL certificates and implement additional assurances such as EV SSL certificates, DNSSEC and Always On SSL (AOSSL).
However, among the different sectors analyzed, social networking, gaming and dating websites were more likely to score higher on the trust index, with half of them making the Honor Roll. Overall, only around 30 percent of the websites studied were deemed trustworthy by the OTA, and this figure has shown very little change since OTA began tracking trust in 2012.
“Our 2014 Honor Roll recipients have demonstrated a commitment toward responsible management of sensitive consumer data and privacy,” OTA executive director and president Craig Spiezle said in a statement. “OTA commends the companies who made this list—but remains concerned about the failures of some of the world’s largest online brands.”