August 21, 2014, 11:20 AM

E-retailers lead the way on e-mail security

E-retailers ranked in the Top 100 of the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide use standard e-mail security protocols more often than other industries.

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The web sites of the Top 100 e-retailers, as included in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide, are outpacing other industries—such as social networks, government organizations, financial institutions and news outlets—in terms of implementing e-mail security standards, according to the Online Trust Alliance’s Email Integrity Audit, a companion to the recently released annual Online Trust Honor Roll, which analyzes the trustworthiness of web sites based on data protection, privacy and security.

The report focuses on e-mail security and privacy protection practices of more than 800 web sites, including those maintained by merchants in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide. The report also analyzed more than 100 million e-mail headers. The analysis was completed between April 15 and May 23.

The report tested sites for two standard e-mail security protocols: Sender Policy Framework (SPF) and DomainKeys Identified Mail (DKIM). “These protocols work to complement each other to help verify that the email is authorized by the owner of the domain used,” the report says. SPF describes where a domain’s e-mail should be coming from. DKIM uses cryptography to sign messages originating from a server.

Among the Internet Retailer Top 100, 100% of the sites tested use SPF or DKIM, and 88.0% use both of the protocols—the highest percentage of any industry tested. Among the Top 500, 74.2% use both and 98.0% use one or the other. Among news sites, only 78% use SPF or DKIM, 96% among social networks, 88% among top financial institutions and 68% among government organizations.

As part of the report, the Online Trust Alliance also tested web sites for possible inclusion on the e-mail honor roll. Across all segments, only 8.3% of web sites tested qualified for inclusion. In the Top 100, 14% of sites tested qualified. In the Top 500, 6% of sites tested qualified.

Following are the retail web sites receiving passing scores (in alphabetical order), followed by their Internet Retailer Top 500 ranking:

  • Inc., No. 65
  • Inc., No. 1
  • American Greetings Corp., No. 254
  • Inc., No. 63
  • Apple Inc., No. 2
  • Inc., No. 323
  • LLC, No. 467
  • Coastal Contacts Inc., No. 127
  • Crutchfield Corp., No 154
  • eBags Inc., No. 163
  • Etsy Inc., No. 30
  •, No. 298
  • Groupon, No. 44
  •, No. 264
  • Kate Spade, No. 176
  • LivingSocial Inc., No. 155
  • Netflix Inc., No. 7
  • Newegg Inc., No. 17
  • Nordstrom Inc., No. 24
  • Inc., No. 31
  • Shutterfly Inc., No. 50
  • Silver Star Brands, No. 223
  • Sweetwater, No. 192
  • Target Corp., No. 18
  • Title Nine, No. 347
  • TJX Cos. Inc., No. 101
  • Vistaprint NV, No. 33
  • zulily Inc., No. 55


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