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Managing a Business, Security & Privacy

How to ensure online payments are secure

Whether you run an exclusively online business or have a blended online and retail brand, you need to know how to ensure your online payments are secure. Having a secure way for customers to pay you will increase your revenue and maximize customer trust in no time.

If you’re not sure where to start, read on. We’ll explore best practices that will ensure the online payments your business accepts are safe and secure.

The importance of ensuring secure online payments

Simply put, you must ensure each online payment to your store is secure because your customers won’t accept anything else.

In the modern day and age, customers expect companies to protect their payment information when they use a credit card online or when they use some other payment method, like cryptocurrencies or e-wallet deposits. Customers love shopping online, but they won’t spend their money at your e-commerce store if they think that their personal information or credit card info is at risk of being stolen.

More importantly, ensuring secure online payments for your customers will result in many other benefits for your brand over the long term. These benefits include::

  • Higher trust from your customers. The more your customers trust you, the more money they will spend on your brand and the more likely they will be to give you a good recommendation to people they know in their social circles.
  • Minimized risk of fraudulent activities. No one wants their e-commerce store to be used by bots or cybercriminals. By securing online payments, you can reduce the chances of your store being compromised.
  • Superior customer experiences. When buying something at your online store is quick, easy, and safe, customers have stellar experiences and walk away with good feelings. This makes them more likely to come back again, boosting your revenue stream and increasing customer loyalty at the same time.
  • Reduced risk of fees and penalties from the government. Legislation like the California Consumer Protection Act (CCPA) and the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in Europe make high-quality digital security a requirement for big e-commerce brands. If you fail to protect the information of your customers, you could face major fines and penalties.

Given these benefits, there’s no reason not to start implementing a few key best practices for secure online payments ASAP.

Practice a good password policy

Always practice good password policies. Specifically, every password should be:

  • Comprised of a combination of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols.
  • Unique, so the same password isn’t shared between multiple systems or accounts.
  • Kept safe, so it shouldn’t be written down on a piece of paper that anyone can read

Use tools like NordPass to keep passwords safe and secure. By doing this, you’ll prevent your systems or store accounts from being compromised by bad actors. In this way, you’ll also protect the online payments your customers make, as identity thieves and other criminals cannot easily access that payment information without an alternative means of system entry.

Protect your POS hardware

Protect physical POS hardware

If you run a blended retail/online brand, you probably have Point of Service (POS) registers and payment systems. These systems may interlink with your online payment systems and account tracking software.

However, your POS hardware can be vulnerable to attack. As an example, a criminal might try to install a credit card skimmer in your POS hardware. In this way, they can lift the credit card information from retail customers. But such a criminal might also get access to the online payment details of your e-commerce customers.

With this in mind, protect your physical POS hardware. If you have a physical storefront, you could consider installing cameras and teaching employees what to look for. You’ll also want to be very strategic about the specific tools that you use to accept card payments from customers as well. This is why you should look for credit card machines with features such as built-in end-to-end encryption and skimmer hardware detection. 

If you can prevent your POS hardware from acting as a backdoor into your online store systems, your entire business will be that much safer from criminals of all types.

Store as little data as possible

As a business, you do have to collect some amount of data on your customers for marketing, sales, and security purposes. But you should not hoard data that you don’t think you’ll ever use. Not only is this expensive, but it could potentially be bad for your customers and their long-term security.

Store as little data as you can. If you collect any unneeded data, you should delete or destroy it to limit your risk and decrease server usage, plus reduce how much data might be exposed if you are ever victimized by a data breach.

Use point-to-point encryption

Point-to-point encryption can be an effective tool to improve the security of online payments for your business. Point-to-point encryption turns collected information into unreadable text or “ciphertext,” ensuring that whoever receives the data is the only entity that can access the information if they have the right encryption key.

In other words, point-to-point encryption prevents your customers’ credit card or other online payment data from being compromised if you send it to another location, like databases off-site.

customer authentication methods

Leverage strong customer authentication

Strong customer authentication, or SCA, is an important practice that requires any user logging into your e-commerce system to provide at least two out of three different identity factors. These include:

  • Something they know, like a PIN or password
  • Something they own, like a key or mobile phone
  • Something they are, like a face or fingerprint scan

By requiring anyone who accesses your systems to follow SCA protocols, you’ll make it virtually impossible for a criminal to access your online payment system and customer information.

Only work with trusted third-party providers

Third-party providers like vendors, security companies, payment processors, and more could all be potential vulnerabilities in your online payment system. Therefore, you should only work with trusted, reputable third-party providers that are known to meet the PCI compliance standards.

If you aren’t sure whether a third-party provider is trustworthy, request a list of all their security measures and policies before signing a contract with them. You can also check online reviews of a given vendor to know whether other e-commerce brands have had good experiences with them.

Invest in fraud monitoring

Lastly, consider investing some money in fraud monitoring. Fraud can be quite expensive for your organization, especially if you are hit with multiple attacks in succession. By monitoring your online payment system for fraud, you’ll protect your customers and your business and be much better positioned to respond quickly in case of a data breach, stolen customer info, or some other digital attack.

Security is always the top priority

These best practices will help you provide secure online payments to your customers for a long time to come. Be sure to update your security software frequently, and always keep track of evolving cybersecurity practices and threats. The more consistent you can make the online payment experience, the more loyal your customers will become.

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Gary Stevens avatar

Gary Stevens

Gary Stevens is a web developer and technology writer. He's a part-time blockchain geek and a volunteer working for the Ethereum foundation as well as an active Github contributor. More articles written by Gary.

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