Online Payment Security: 5 Steps to Ensure Safe Transactions

Published on June 07, 2013
3 min read

Although most forms of online payment are relatively secure, there is always the potential for problems. Without taking the necessary precautions, your customers' payment information can be compromised and complications can ensue. That's why it's so important to understand the fundamentals of keeping online payments secure. Here are some options that can keep both you and your customers safe.

1. PCI Compliance

One of the first steps to take is to make sure your payment system is Payment Card Industry (PCI) compliant. The Payment Card Industry Security Standards Council was formed in 2006 to regulate major payment brands and help merchants keep their customers' financial data safe. It's their prerogative to maximize information security by implementing 12 security requirements.

Whether your business is large or small, this is important because it ensures that you meet at least the minimum security requirements for processing customer transactions. The PCI council works with merchants to provide education about online safety and will take necessary steps to maximize your website's safety. The specific requirements you need to meet depends on many factors, including the size of your business. It's their job to analyze your online transaction system, check for vulnerabilities, and fix them. The compliance team creates reports and sends them to the card brands and banks that your business is associated with. Visit the PCI website for merchants for access to all the information you need to get started.

2. Data Encryption

Another way to enhance security is to utilize encryption technology to make sure private financial information remains private. This technology confirms that the websites your business uses for transactions are part of valid organizations and have legitimate operators. It minimizes the risk of sensitive information viewed by the wrong parties. It also greatly reduces the chances of hackers cracking passwords. The combination of these features creates an added layer of protection for customers throughout the transaction process. Data encryption is more important than ever, especially with Wi-Fi networks and identity theft problems.

3. Safe Login Screen

When customers sign in to access their accounts, it's critical the login system is as secure as possible. Does you site render an HTTPS in the address bar? If not, you can make it dangerously easy for hackers to infiltrate and gain access to sensitive information. In the event that a customer forgets his password, he should be required to enter a user name or email address to retrieve it. The system will then send him an email where he can temporarily log in or create a new password. Following this type of safety protocol is relatively simple but can prevent many security threats.

4. Updated Operating Systems

It's also smart to stay current with all security updates that are available for your business's network of computers. Because hackers are constantly coming up with new techniques, it's critical to stay one step ahead. If you haven't done so already, you should sign up for automatic updates for your entire network. This will prevent you from forgetting to download any important safeguards that could jeopardize your online payment security. Besides keeping transactions safe, this should significantly reduce the chances of acquiring a virus that can negatively impact business operations.

5. Security Assessment

Finally, a thorough assessment of your payment system from a company like Security Metrics should tie up any loose ends. This company is somewhat similar to the analysis that the PCI will perform but is a bit more exhaustive in their approach. One feature they offer involves implementing ethical hacking, in which penetration test analysts inspect your network much like a hacker would. They do this manually and look for flaws that could potentially be exploited. Afterward, they will go over their findings and provide consultation to heighten security. Additional features include discovering where unencrypted data is leaking, network configuration, wireless security, and external/internal network security. If you wish to learn more about safety precautions, they can even provide you with security awareness training.

Keeping your customers' payment information safe and confidential should be taken seriously. Following these guidelines will reduce the likelihood of security breaches and keep your daily financial transactions running smoothly. Potential customers should feel more comfortable doing business with you and you're more likely to have repeat customers. This can ultimately give you an advantage over competitors who don't put as much effort into online security. Staff Writer
Written by Staff Writer
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