Online security remains a major concern, especially when it comes to e-commerce. Businesses need to ensure that their client payment system is as secure as possible: After all, a business is responsible for the safety of their clients first and foremost.
Losing access to client data like passwords and logins can make future clients wary of doing business with your company. Losing their payment information, resulting in them being the victims of credit card fraud or identity theft, can leave a company struggling – potentially for years. That's why companies need to understand which security measures are particularly crucial when setting up their site or using a third party to handle their payment process.
To help entrepreneurs figure out what's important to pay attention to when protecting their clients' online payments, 17 experts from Young Entrepreneur Council share their insights into what organizations can do internally to help keep data secure or look for when selecting the best payment service provider for its needs.
"E-commerce security hinges on trust-building. For your customers to feel safe purchasing from your system, invest in an SSL security certificate in addition to any other regulatory compliance certificates to help bolster your credibility. This way, you can acquire a green padlock symbol next to your website's URL, which goes a long way toward building trust." – Amine Rahal, Little Dragon Media
Work with a reliable hosting provider.
"Your hosting provider plays an important role in ensuring payment security. There are hosting platforms that are built specifically with payment security in mind. A good hosting provider will offer several payment gateway options and integrate with major third-party software for secure payments. E-commerce businesses especially need to find reliable hosting platforms." – Blair Williams, MemberPress
Protect unstructured data.
"Unstructured data is easier to breach than structured data. Most unstructured data lives in our email inboxes, and much of it is highly sensitive. While your firm's internal documents may be kept safe, exported unstructured data (e.g., an Excel sheet) sent privately via email is susceptible to hacking and theft. Instead, use secure cloud storage systems to transfer sensitive customer-related data." – Tyler Gallagher, Regal Assets
Use 256-bit cart encryption.
"Using SSL, 256-bit encryption should be the standard in all online payments. All the big guys do it. It's the safest tech at the moment. The SSL badge on your site's payment pages gives customers an extra feeling of security. There's no reason not to use it! If you can do a bit of research and get comfortable with your hosting provider's C-panel, you can (and should) easily set this up in no time." – Adam Guild, Placepull
Partner with a transaction service.
"You can use third parties to secure and store important, confidential customer information. Because it can be risky to store this information, using a third-party transaction partner helps to break it up and keep it out of hackers' hands." – Stephanie Wells, Formidable Forms
Help educate customers.
"Many customers don't understand online security as well as they should, and although it isn't your job as a business to educate them, you can still do your part. You can answer basic questions about secure online payments on your FAQs page or during checkout. That way, you'll ease your customers' doubts." – Jared Atchison, WPForms
Use decentralized technologies.
"Consider blockchain technology for securing your user data and payments. Decentralized systems are the best tools we have to protect against hacking. To corrupt or destroy a blockchain, the hacker would need to access millions of computers, not just one. Corrupting a whole system is highly unlikely, making this the best technology for securing information and your end user." – Matthew Capala, Alphametic
Use a gateway account.
"You should try not to save customers' credit card data in your database. It's not necessary with most payment gateways. You can safely secure those in a payment gateway account in the form of a token. It means that even merchants don't have access to the actual number but can do everything it needs to do (setting up recurring payments, processing an additional transaction, processing a refund, etc.)." – Shu Saito, Godai
Enable limited access.
"Only your founders and those with special access privileges should have the ability to access customer data. And these accounts should be double protected with two-factor authentication." – Matt Diggity, Diggity Marketing
Use an established third party.
"Despite downsides to third-party payment processors (such as fees), established ones will have robust security protocols in place. For example, Stripe or PayPal have thrived due to their ease of use and customer-centric convenience. They stay updated and even have large customer service teams to assist along the way. In the case of a hack or dispute, they will often side with the customer." – Jared Polites, LaunchTeam
Wipe consumer payment input.
"Our system wipes out consumer payment methods as soon as their purchase clears. We do everything we can to stop cybercriminals, but nothing is 100% safe. I believe that by erasing consumer data after their purchase, we are protecting our clients' information in the event of a breach." – Chris Christoff, MonsterInsights
Have multiple authentication layers.
"This system requires multiple means of authentication in an effort to take the protection of clients' online payments to the next level. After logging into a website with their username and password, clients are then asked to provide a one-time access code the website sends to their cell phone, for example. Creating multiple security layers like this offers greater assurance for your clients." – Blair Thomas, eMerchantBroker
Enable two-factor authentication.
"One of the best ways to stop hackers in their tracks is by using two-step authentication. Our employees must use this system, and we encourage our customers to take advantage of this system when they sign up. Two-factor helps protect online payments, because it requires a second login device to access sensitive information." – John Turner, SeedProd LLC
Use AVS checks.
"To protect your clients' online payments and reduce fraud, use AVS checks. AVS stands for address verification service, and the process verifies the billing address against the cardholders' data from the issuing bank. If the person placing the order and the cardholder list the same address, they're likely to be the same person – typically the criminal doesn't have access to the billing address." – Thomas Griffin, OptinMonster
Use the right payment processor.
"I recommend using authorize.net for their payment options. The platform comes with an advanced fraud detection suite, which is great for safety, and the service can cater to your business's unique sales needs. Customer information and transaction safety are my top concerns, and based on my experiences and the ones of my clients, authorize.net has a good reputation when it comes to safeguarding data." – Matthew Podolsky, Florida Law Advisers, P.A.
Implement SSL protocol.
"Implementing SSL protocol on your site helps customers trust your site more. They'll know that their payment information is encrypted and protected. SSL makes use of an algorithm that checks that every transaction passes an integrity test before transmission. This ensures that your clients' online payments don't get stolen and makes the transaction safe." – Syed Balkhi, WPBeginner
Look for a 'one view' policy.
"Look for a merchant processor that allows one view only of credit card details before the information is deleted. Many of the main credit card processing companies offer this, but not all. Businesses like PayPal and Square offer this, but you have to sign up for it. This strategy works well; it takes the challenge of protecting customer information out of your hands." – Andrew Schrage, Money Crashers Personal Finance