Twitter nabs top honors in security, privacy audit

Group that includes Symantec, VeriSign, and Microsoft tags Twitter tops among 800 websites for user protection, security.

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Twitter has flown off with the highest score in a new report measuring the trustworthiness of websites.

On Wednesday, the Online Trust Alliance -- whose members include security firm Symantec, network-infrastructure company VeriSign, tech giant Microsoft, and Twitter itself -- released its annual Online Trust Audit and Honor Roll. The audit ranks select websites in such areas as consumer protection, security, and privacy. Among the 800 sites examined, only 29 percent made the "Honor Roll," meaning they use best practices to protect the data of their users. Among the remaining percentage, more than half flunked the test in at least one of the categories measured.

Based on each site's privacy policies and technologies, the rankings and findings are increasingly important at a time when prominent businesses are being hit by hackers and security breaches. Such major companies as Target and eBay have been the victims of cyberbreaches that stole usernames, passwords, and other data, putting their users and customers at risk.

Scoring top honors for 2014 was Twitter, which won the best grade for the second year in a row with the highest overall score for trustworthiness. The site was ranked tops for its domain and consumer protection, the security of its infrastructure, and its user data protection and privacy.

"Twitter is honored to again receive the top overall award for the highest score on the OTA Honor Roll," Bob Lord, Twitter's director of information security, said in a statement. "It has become increasingly clear over the past year that companies need to be even more vigilant in applying security and encryption technologies like always-on-SSL, forward secrecy, and DMARC in order to protect their users, and we're glad to partner with organizations like the OTA to raise the security and privacy bar."

Social networks fared well in general in the audit. The "Social 50," which includes social networks, gaming sites, and dating sites, outscored all the other sectors analyzed this year by the OTA. Other tech sites given top honors by the OTA included Microsoft, Netflix, Newegg, GoDaddy, and Symantec.

The OTA said it used a combination of resources, such as Alexa, Comscore, the FDIC, government rankings, and Internet Retailer Magazine's Internet Retailer 500, to decide which websites to measure. The organization then used its own unique methodology to determine which sites made the grade and which ones flunked out.

About the author

Journalist, software trainer, and Web developer Lance Whitney writes columns and reviews for CNET, Computer Shopper, Microsoft TechNet, and other technology sites. His first book, "Windows 8 Five Minutes at a Time," was published by Wiley & Sons in November 2012.

 

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