More than half of all online pharmacies are failing to encrypt their customer data, exposing consumers to identity theft and credit-card fraud, new figures show.The study, conducted by brand protection company MarkMonitor, also found that more than 20 per cent of internet pharmacies are using post-purchase emails containing links to unencrypted consumer information.
The MarkMonitor Brandjacking Index, which measures online threats to brands quarterly, found that of the 3,160 online chemists studied, only four were accredited as Verified Internet Pharmacy Practice Sites (VIPPS), by the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy, which regulates legitimate online stores.
The research also found that the UK hosted 18 per cent of online pharmacies, but that figure is dwarfed by the 59 per cent of web-based drug stores rooted in the US.
“The majority of these websites are completely unsafe and people are inputting their credit and debit card details into them,” Charlie Abrahams, vice president and general manager, EMEA, for MarkMonitor, said. “A lot of them are set up quickly to sell counterfeit pharmaceuticals so they don’t bother putting any security features on them.”
He added: “Users of these sites should be concerned. Their banking details have been entered on to an unsecured site and included on the confirmation email they receive after making the purchase. I would also like to see some form of universal accreditation scheme that informs the user that they can trade safely.”