And now we have quantification of the challenge. Ghostery, a provider of apps that enable consumers to identify and block company tracking on website pages, has examined instances of non-secure digital technologies active on the websites of 50 leading brands in key industry segments like news, financial services, airlines and retail.
More specifically, Ghostery was looking for security “blind spots,” which it defines as non-secure tags that are present without the permission of the host company.
What it found was that 48 of the 50 websites it studied had security blind spots.
And often it’s not just one or two instances on a website. The analysis found that retail web pages host a high concentration of non-secure technologies: 438 of them on the Top Ten retail sites it analyzed (companies like Costco, Kohls, Overstock.com, Target and Walmart).
Financial services sites are also hit hard, with 382 blind spots identified, while airline websites had 223 instances. And they’re often present on the pages described as “secure” on these websites.
Scott Meyer, who is Ghostery’s chief executive officer, had this to say about the situation:
“Companies have very little understanding of what’s happening on their websites. The problem is not with any of the company’s marketing stacks, it’s with their own tech stacks. What these companies have now is marketing clouds, not websites, and they’ve gotten complicated and hard to manage.”
There was one leading brand web site that came off looking squeaky clean compared to the others: Amazon. “Amazon is incredibly sophisticated; others are not,” Meyer noted.
The implications of avoiding addressing these security blind spots could be seriously negative. Bot networks often use non-secure technologies to gain entry to websites. Google is indexing company websites higher in search engine results based on their security ratings.
It makes it all the more important for companies to audit their websites and set up system alerts to identify the non-secure tags.
For the leading brands in particular, they just need to suck it up and do it for the benefit of their millions of customers.