Dark Reading is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Vulnerabilities / Threats

Security Audit Shows Gains, Though Privacy Lags

The 2018 Online Trust Audit shows that "encryption everywhere" is improving security, while fuzzy language is slowing privacy gains.

Many organizations talk about website security, but how many live up to the talk? That's the question the Internet Society's Online Trust Alliance (OTA) sought to answer with its annual "Online Trust Audit & Honor Role," which examined more than 1,200 websites to measure their implementation of best practices in three areas: consumer protection (DNS, domain, and brand protection); site, server, application, and infrastructure security; and privacy, transparency, and disclosures.

This marks the 10th year of the comprehensive audit.

"Every year we adjust, looking for the latest best practices that are practical and reasonable for companies of most sizes," says Jeff Wilbur, technical director of the Online Trust Initiative for The Internet Society. The changing perspective on best practices is important, he says, "especially these days with cloud services, where you can get pretty sophisticated things even if you're a small organization."

The good news is that 70% of the websites analyzed this year scored high enough to qualify for the honor roll, up from 54% in the 2017 audit. "Overall, the two big things that jumped out were [best practices around] email authentication and end-to-end encryption of the entire Web session," Wilbur says. About 40% more companies are encrypting their entire Web sessions this year compared with last year, he adds, and that increase accounts for much of the improvement.

According to the report, 93% of sites encrypt all Web sessions. Certain industries made even more dramatic improvements. US government sites were the best-performing of all market segments, with 91% of audited sites making the honor roll. This is up from a fifth place performance in 2017. Consumer sites came in second, with 85% of audited sites making the honor roll. The category came in first place in the 2017 audit, but high breach rates—34% of audited sites reported a breach during the year—prevented a repeat performance.

Federal government sites also scored very well for email protection, with DMARC adoption shown for 93% of sites. This is a critical measure of security, the OTA says, because business email compromise (BEC) remains the leading source of malware infection in organizations of all sorts.

The lowest-performing market segment was also the newest in the audit: Healthcare found only 57% of its audited sites making the honor roll.

Improvements in security were not matched by improvements in privacy, Wilbur says, and that's disappointing. Much of that disconnect can be laid at the doorstep of online advertising. "Sharing your data so that someone can advertise to you — depending on individuals, they may or may not have an issue with that," he says. The problem, he says, language on websites about privacy and how the individual data will be used is "fuzzy enough and vague enough that we think it needs to be clearer and properly set consumer expectations."   

But both the overall status and trends are quite good, Wilbur says, and future audits will help organizations continue to improve.

"We try to choose criteria that are practically implementable by organizations of any size. This can be used as kind of a guidebook for the right thing to do," he says.

Wilbur points out that one of the appendices is a checklist of the criteria an organization could take to a service provider or IT organization with questions about how every point could be answered. The goal, he says, is simple. "Hopefully, if we can get the word out that everyone should be able to do nearly all these things and that they're the right thing to do, we can help improve security and privacy overall, for everybody," Wilbur says.

Related Content:

 

 

 

Join Dark Reading LIVE for two cybersecurity summits at Interop 2019. Learn from the industry's most knowledgeable IT security experts. Check out the Interop agenda here.

Curtis Franklin Jr. is Senior Editor at Dark Reading. In this role he focuses on product and technology coverage for the publication. In addition he works on audio and video programming for Dark Reading and contributes to activities at Interop ITX, Black Hat, INsecurity, and ... View Full Bio

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
Exploits Released for As-Yet Unpatched Critical Citrix Flaw
Jai Vijayan, Contributing Writer,  1/13/2020
Microsoft to Officially End Support for Windows 7, Server 2008
Kelly Sheridan, Staff Editor, Dark Reading,  1/13/2020
Active Directory Needs an Update: Here's Why
Raz Rafaeli, CEO and Co-Founder at Secret Double Octopus,  1/16/2020
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon Contest
Write a Caption, Win a Starbucks Card! Click Here
Latest Comment: This comment is waiting for review by our moderators.
Current Issue
The Year in Security: 2019
This Tech Digest provides a wrap up and overview of the year's top cybersecurity news stories. It was a year of new twists on old threats, with fears of another WannaCry-type worm and of a possible botnet army of Wi-Fi routers. But 2019 also underscored the risk of firmware and trusted security tools harboring dangerous holes that cybercriminals and nation-state hackers could readily abuse. Read more.
Flash Poll
[Just Released] How Enterprises are Attacking the Cybersecurity Problem
[Just Released] How Enterprises are Attacking the Cybersecurity Problem
Organizations have invested in a sweeping array of security technologies to address challenges associated with the growing number of cybersecurity attacks. However, the complexity involved in managing these technologies is emerging as a major problem. Read this report to find out what your peers biggest security challenges are and the technologies they are using to address them.
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2020-5397
PUBLISHED: 2020-01-17
Spring Framework, versions 5.2.x prior to 5.2.3 are vulnerable to CSRF attacks through CORS preflight requests that target Spring MVC (spring-webmvc module) or Spring WebFlux (spring-webflux module) endpoints. Only non-authenticated endpoints are vulnerable because preflight requests should not incl...
CVE-2019-17635
PUBLISHED: 2020-01-17
Eclipse Memory Analyzer version 1.9.1 and earlier is subject to a deserialization vulnerability if an index file of a parsed heap dump is replaced by a malicious version and the heap dump is reopened in Memory Analyzer. The user must chose to reopen an already parsed heap dump with an untrusted inde...
CVE-2019-19339
PUBLISHED: 2020-01-17
It was found that the Red Hat Enterprise Linux 8 kpatch update did not include the complete fix for CVE-2018-12207. A flaw was found in the way Intel CPUs handle inconsistency between, virtual to physical memory address translations in CPU's local cache and system software's Paging structure entries...
CVE-2007-6070
PUBLISHED: 2020-01-17
** REJECT ** DO NOT USE THIS CANDIDATE NUMBER. ConsultIDs: CVE-2008-1382. Reason: This candidate is a reservation duplicate of CVE-2008-1382. Notes: All CVE users should reference CVE-2008-1382 instead of this candidate. All references and descriptions in this candidate have been removed to prevent ...
CVE-2019-17634
PUBLISHED: 2020-01-17
Eclipse Memory Analyzer version 1.9.1 and earlier is subject to a cross site scripting (XSS) vulnerability when generating an HTML report from a malicious heap dump. The user must chose todownload, open the malicious heap dump and generate an HTML report for the problem to occur. The heap dump could...