5 ways to ensure your business has secure payment systems - woman checking out at counter

5 ways to ensure your business has secure payment systems

Wednesday, December 03, 2014

As e-commerce expands, companies are encouraged to adopt measures to ensure payment security. Secure payment systems allow for customers to trust in the payment process and know that credit card data, payment data, and personal information are properly protected. 

This article reviews the meaning of payment security and the threats that exist within payment technologies. Moreover, since customers continue to make purchases in a variety of ways (mobile devices, computers, etc.) this article provides 5 key ways to ensure payment security and implement high quality risk management approaches for your business. 

What is payment security?

Payment security is a broad term that defines the ecosystem of approaches to guarding your business while also protecting customers engaging with your business. Secure payment services include various levels of authentication, cybersecurity, biometrics, and security standards to prevent hackers from stealing critical information; and when companies implement high levels of payment security, they are better positioned to ensure positive cash flows and customer appreciation. 

Payment card security standards are globally set. The governing body is called the Payment Card Industry (PCI) and the standards are called the Payment Card Industry Security Standards Council (PCI SSC). The PCI delineates various methods for security and data security standards so that expectations are globally consistent and available to customers no matter where the transactions occur. The PCI was launched in 2006 and was spearheaded by major credit card companies to address issues of credit card fraud around the world. 

Depending on the number of transactions, a company can be placed in one of four compliance levels that they must follow for PCI compliance. PCI compliance level four has the least amount of requirements and PCI compliance level one has the most. If your company utilizes card processing, it is recommended that PCI compliance level four is met. Companies can complete attestation documentation for PCI compliance with the credit card institutions and providers they work with. 

Generally, the most secure payments tend to be completed through credit cards (Mastercard, Visa, American Express, etc.), debit cards, wire transfers, and mobile wallets. 

Threats to payment security

With mobile payments and digital point of sales transactions, the risk for fraud increases. Additionally, the risk of cardholder data being stolen also increases. 

It is recommended that businesses evaluate and assess existing vulnerabilities in their established payment security system. Payment security services can be implemented so such vulnerabilities can be properly addressed. One recommendation for rectifying gaps in payment security is to minimize the amount of sensitive data required for business and payment processing. For example, although card information may be a necessary component for card transactions, minimizing the amount of other information collected can help mitigate risk.

The steps below outline ways to avoid fraud and data breaches and to ensure that payment systems are secure. As customers expect to have multiple ways to make purchases, it’s critical to ensure security is optimal, especially in the globalized e-commerce space. 

5 key ways to ensure payment systems are secure

1. Enable SSL Certification and Protocol

Secure Socket Layer (SSL) is a public key certificate that authenticates a website and provides encryption for users. SSL-certified websites can be identified by the padlock symbol in the address bar and the use of "https://" in a website's name. 
SSL is a standard security tool that protects customers from hackers or fraudsters. Some small businesses may not deem an SSL certificate as necessary; however, small businesses may in fact be the most vulnerable targets when it comes to breaches in payment security. 

2. Utilize Tokenization

Tokenization is another critical layer of security that businesses can use when building and developing secure payment systems. The focus in this security measure is customer data. During a transaction, payment data becomes a random string of numbers, so if a hacker accesses the information, it wouldn't be of much value for them to use for fraud purposes. Payment security service providers may provide this extra layer of security as part of their overall risk mitigation plan. 

3. Address Verification Service

Address Verification Service (AVS) is one of the more popular and common online payment security methods. AVS requires customers to provide the correct billing address associated with their credit card. The address is then verified with the credit card company as a means for authentication. If the address doesn't match, the transaction cannot be completed. 

4. System Updates and Optimization

A simple but necessary way to enhance existing payment security systems is to update the technology used on your business’s current payment systems. For example, if you’re using a computer operating system, you can run an update to ensure the latest security software is installed. New system updates tend to fix previous issues with security, allowing for your system to run with the most up-to-date levels of security. 

When considering technology or payment processors for transactions, it is good practice to not store customer information. When the information is removed, there is less data to be compromised should a data breach occur. 

5. Utilize 3D Secure

A newer layer of security known as 3D Secure (3DS) is now offered by many cardholder companies. This method enables additional authentication through the entering of a pin number or another piece of information that only the customer knows. This ensures to the company that the person entering the card data is actually the person who the credit card belongs to. 

3DS is currently used for transactions that are deemed “high risk” by credit card companies. 3DS may become more visible in the data and payment security fields in the coming years as credit card companies continue to utilize higher compliance standards. 

Applying these 5 ways for payment security is the beginning of a dynamic, ongoing process to ensure secure payment services. As your business begins the process of implementing payment security protocols, it is recommended that an audit of your payment processing page or landing site be conducted once a week. When performing the audit, check on the page operations, verify that the latest version of SSL was installed, and review all payment links. 

Ready to stay on the forefront of payment security? 

Heartland helps nearly 1,000,000 entrepreneurs make and move money, manage employees and engage customers with human-centered technology solutions that allow them to rise above the daily grind and lead their businesses into a brighter future. Learn more at heartland.us.