News Feature | August 21, 2017

How Retailers Can Help Safeguard Their Customers' Privacy

Christine Kern

By Christine Kern, contributing writer

Establishing A Security Policy

Study found that over half of websites collect visitors' email addresses, Risking Privacy

More than half of all websites collect email addresses, names and other information from their visitors, and that information may not be safeguarded, according to a new survey from research and reviews platform provider Clutch.

Website visitors' email addresses are most commonly collected (57 percent), followed by names (47 percent), and locations (45 percent), the survey found. Although this information can provide valuable insights for businesses, inconsistent security measures may increase the risk to visitors' privacy. And email addresses present the greatest security risk to consumers, according to industry experts.

"When data is correlated over multiple web services, whether that is a Gmail account, a bank account, or a password retrieval from Facebook, it's done through the email address," said Idan Udi Edry, CEO of Trustifi, a company specializing in email transaction data security and privacy. "The combination of an email address and a name is enough [for a hacker] to start the reconnaissance on someone as a user."

The survey also found that, even though security tools are widely available, 63 percent of website managers admit that they do not currently use common security features, including encryption. But once a website visitor's information has been collected, decisions about storage and hosting can help to avoid privacy risks, and retailer should be taking steps to better safeguard their customers’ information.

Despite this evidence of privacy risks, the survey also found that respondents are aware that improvement is needed. In particular, use of encryption appears to be on the rise: More than one in five respondents plan to encrypt sensitive information this year.

Michael Tys, a mobile developer at TechMagic in the Ukraine, said that one problem with security features is that they add obstacles for the users. He asserted, “From my point of view, security approaches should not bring any complication to the user.” Poor user experience remains a key obstacle to better security. According to Tys, “The user is required to do a lot of things – provide your password, your cat’s name, the street you’re living on, your favorite number,” but he sees biometrics like fingerprints as the future for security access.

“It’s really an awesome feature,” Tys said. “I’m using it on my banking application, and I can’t wait until the API is opened.”

Clutch's 2017 Website Security Survey included 302 website managers who built and/or maintain a website for personal, business, or other use.

To read the full report and source the survey data visit: https://clutch.co/website-builders/resources/survey-2017-small-business-websites-privacy