Online Retailers Need to Get Serious About Online Security

Online retailers, listen up: Earlier this week in its e-mail authentication report, the Online Trust Alliance (formerly the Authentication Online Trust Alliance) gave online retailers a failing grade in preventing deceptive e-mail and phishing scams.

Deceptive e-mails and phishing scams refer to forged e-mails that purport to come from legitimate brand owners. If you’re receiving a failing grade in this, you’re really shooting yourself in the foot.

Online retailers, listen up: Earlier this week in its e-mail authentication report, the Online Trust Alliance (formerly the Authentication Online Trust Alliance) gave online retailers a failing grade in preventing deceptive e-mail and phishing scams.

Deceptive e-mails and phishing scams refer to forged e-mails that purport to come from legitimate brand owners. If you’re receiving a failing grade in this, you’re really shooting yourself in the foot.

E-mail authentication, which equips e-mail messages with verifiable information so recipients can recognize the nature of each incoming message automatically, has grown over the past year, according to the OTA. Nevertheless, the OTA found that 45 percent of the top 300 revenue-generating e-retail sites have not adopted e-mail authentication. The alliance said this lack of adoption leaves brands, domains and consumers exposed to security and privacy threats.

“Authentication is the best tactic to use to counter phishing scams,” OTA Chairman and Founder Craig Spiezle told me earlier this week, adding that authentication is an easy fix. And for goodness sakes, it’s free.

Many leading brands — including Amazon, Dell, Office Depot, Apple, Costco and Staples — have adopted increased online security measures, according to the OTA. But many others — including Sears, Victoria’s Secret, Gap and Nordstrom — still don’t adequately protect their brands and customers through e-mail authentication. “These brands need to step up to the plate and protect their consumers and stockholders,” Spiezle said.

Spiezle did indicate that among the top 100 online e-retailers, “we are close to 70 percent of adoption. So, what this indicates is that, in general, bigger companies are recognizing the value of authentication.”

When you look at the top 200, Spiezle said, “adoption drops to 59 percent and then to 55 percent when looking at the top 300.”

OTA will also release similar data on the Fortune 500 at the upcoming OTA Online Trust Town Hall Meeting on April 23 in San Francisco. At the forum, OTA will also present best practices including data governance, privacy and behavioral targeting with the goal of increasing the adoption of best practices to protect consumers.

It seems to me that if you’re an online e-tailer, it would make sense to do whatever it is you can to make sure that your brand is protected. And since it’s easy and free, it makes even more sense. Do your brand a favor, authenticate!