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Researchers analyze hacking incidents, business cybersecurity standings

There is a significant amount of anecdotal evidence of the digital threats faced by consumers and businesses, but a recent analysis has provided more specific information on the prevalence of hacking. Google security researcher Elie Bursztein recently conducted an investigation into account compromises affecting U.S. internet users. Although the majority (81.6 percent) of respondents said they had never had one of their online accounts compromised, Bursztein was still surprised by the number of people who had been affected.

"Almost one in five US Internet users report that one of their online accounts had been comprised at some point," Bursztein wrote in a blog post. "That is the result of the study I conducted using Google Consumer Surveys. This [is] a much higher percentage than I imagined and it emphasizes how pervasive account compromises are."

Bursztein ended his post with advice on how users can better protect themselves, suggesting that they provide companies with their phone numbers to enable an additional identity verification measure. However, companies should also take some of the responsibility by providing more comprehensive authentication controls and contacting users when they detect suspicious activity.

The good news is that businesses have already made significant strides in creating a more secure online environment. According to a 2012 report from the Online Trust Alliance, adoption of extended validation certificates increased 48 percent year-over-year. However, there is still some room for improvement when it comes to implementation and configuration of SSL certificates. The report rated organizations based on encryption key strength, BEAST attack vulnerability and compliance with Payment Card Industry standards.

Although the majority of organizations averaged between 75 and 80 out of 100, government agencies scored the lowest with an average of 67.7. Businesses can improve their website security by closing server vulnerabilities and by choosing SSL certificates that use stronger encryption keys.

Get your SSL certificate today to improve your security posture.

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