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Top UK e-commerce sites fail to protect 'password' password-havers from selves

Really... you don't lock 'em out after multiple tries? - survey

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Top UK e-commerce sites are not doing enough to safeguard users from their own password-related foibles, according to a new study.

A review of password security at the top 100 e-commerce sites found two in three (66 per cent) accept notoriously weak passwords such as “123456” or “password”, putting users in danger.

The first quarterly review by password manager and digital wallet firm Dashlane also found two in three (66 per cent) of e-commerce sites make no attempt to block entry after 10 incorrect password entries.

Sites that fail to implement rudimentary measures to block brute force attacks include Amazon UK, Next, Tesco and New Look. Hackers often run malicious software that can run thousands of passwords during log-ins to breach accounts, a tactic that a simple policy of locking out individuals after a given number of failed password entries would thwart.

Dashlane examined the e-commerce sites using a set of 26 criteria, including mandatory password length, acceptance of the 10 most commonly hacked passwords and whether or not they displayed users’ password in plain text. Each criterion was given a merit or demote point value, leading to a possible total score between -100 and 100 for each site.

Teletext Holidays, Urban Outfitters and Holland & Barrett received the three lowest scores. Virgin Atlantic and Ocado were also among the lowest ranked sites as they all received scores of -35 or below.

Apple is the best e-commerce site in terms of data protection, followed by Travelodge UK, which suffered from a data breach in 2011.

The IMRG CapGemini e-Retail Sales Index recorded 18 per cent year-on-year growth in December. This implies that consumers are increasingly sharing their personal data, including payment information, with a growing number of e-retailers but this confidence is resting on insecure foundations, according to Dashlane's review.

Mediocre as it might be, the UK is much more secure when compared to European neighbours France, where nearly one out of two sites send passwords, account confirmation or reset password emails in plain text email. UK sites did better than French sites in most categories but were outperformed by US sites, which scored better marks in a comparable review also run by Dashlane. ®

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