When the pandemic hit, companies that had previously stayed offline started to offer their products and services online in order to stay afloat. E-commerce has become the primary source of revenue for merchants in most countries now. But with a higher number of transactions comes an even greater responsibility to protect an e-commerce business and its customers from malicious actors.
With the evolving threat environment, the security of online payments is a critical topic these days. Cybercriminals are committing security breaches more often than ever, putting companies’ reputations and customers’ data at risk. E-commerce merchants are taking steps to ensure rock-solid security, including cooperation with cyber security services providers. According to Meticulous Research, the payment security solutions market is projected to reach $54.1 billion by 2028.
Accepting digital payments happens via an e-commerce payment system, and like any other payment – mobile apps, QR codes, or even cash – it comes with risk. The more complex your payment security system, the harder it is to protect it from various security threats. By 2023, 75% of senior retail leaders plan to enforce KPIs related to data availability, recovery and stewardship due to an increasing amount of cyber-attacks that expose the scale of data at risk.
Depending on the information security approach, payments can be managed entirely by a third party, partially outsourced to a vendor, or fully managed by a merchant. There is no one-size-fits-all method that will ensure safety from cyberattacks. However, several best practices can help safeguard your company and customers from cybercriminals. Outsourcing the payment system to an experienced third party is one safe option, but not the only one. Let’s go through some of the most effective best practices a merchant can apply.
1. Ensure PCI compliance
PCI DSS, also known as PCI, stands for Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard that establishes regulations and safe methods for credit card data to be gathered and processed. Any company twhich handles credit card transactions must abide by the standard regardless of the industry, income or transaction volumes.
PCI encompasses 12 fundamental rules to safeguard cardholder information on all levels starting with hardware security to hosting providers to businesses’ software safety. So it is of utmost importance to make sure each level is safeguarded because investing in expensive software may not be effective if the external server you use to run your app is not secured.
2. Install SSL certificate
Any online transaction should be protected by Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) certificate. It minimizes the risk of hacking customers’ website sessions. More specifically, SSL forms an encoded channel between a customer and a server, securing entered and transferred information from being stolen.
For example, if users have to provide their login details or credit card information, securing their session on your website with an SSL certificate ensures a safe shopping experience. Moreover, cracking SSL encryption is beyond human capabilities. According to SSL Dragon, one would need 9.1732631e50 years to accomplish that.
3. Require strong passwords and multi-factor authentication
This security basic can still protect your business and customers from malicious actors. Make sure to change all of the default passwords on your computer equipment and software. Don’t disclose passwords to a third party; change them regularly using a combination of upper- and lower-case letters, numbers, and symbols. Conduct the training on password policy for your employees if needed.
To enhance security, implement multi-factor authentication for your employees and customers. Apart from using login and password credentials, users could be required to pass additional identity verification to access their account. Such identity verification via multi-factor authentication may include a one-time password sent via SMS or email, answers to personal questions and biometric authentication like fingerprints or voice recognition.
4. Utilize data encryption
Sensitive information such as passwords, emails, payment details, and others require proper protection. Data encryption ensures personal info is encoded and only authorized parties can access and read it. Moreover, if cybercriminals obtain access to the database with all the information, it will be unreadable and impossible to decipher.
Tokenization is a data encryption method that can be used to secure credit card numbers and other sensitive data are at rest. At the same time, point-to-point encryption transforms information into unreadable code for secure transfer. Tokens and unreadable code are useless to malicious actors since they need the right key to decode the data.
5. Perform vulnerabilities audits and penetration testing
Cybercriminals come up with new security holes and bugs daily. It is of utmost importance to scan your system regularly to detect any vulnerabilities and fix the issues immediately. You can perform a vulnerability audit with the help of a PCI approved scanning tool that will provide you with the list of potential vulnerabilities or misconfigurations of your payment system or website.
Penetration tests are more than vulnerability testing. It involves an expert who acts as a malicious actor and tries to hack your system and steal your data. It allows you to disclose weak points and make sure cybercriminals will not exploit such vulnerabilities.
Creating robust security is vital for the success of your online business. However, there is no panacea for securing online payments. It requires thorough planning and implementation. Following the tips above and implementing best practices will help you on the path to rock-solid security in order to protect your customers from cybercriminals.