Payment processing systems of many online businesses have been compromised recently putting them in an awkward position of requesting their customers to closely monitor their bank statements for any unauthorised charges. Obviously, one of the reasons for such “security compromise” is PCI Non-Compliance and the failure to take PCI SAQ tests (PCI Compliance validation test) frequently.
Credit Card Payment system breaches can have a huge impact on online businesses. They deliver a huge blow to the confidence customers place on the business and eventually bring down their sales drastically. So the need of the hour: effective payment processing security policies and practices leading to an effective payment processing system. And an effective payment processing system preserves brand reputation and increases customer loyalty.
Various Security Threats
Online businesses are usually confronted with both outsider as well as insider threats. While firewalls and anti-malware packages certainly offer good network perimeter surveillance and protection, the security threats arising from the inside – usually posed by disgruntled employees, ill-intended contractors, and other such third parties – should not be sidelined altogether seems to be the opinion of many security professionals these days.
Therefore an organisation’s security policy should be focusing on both outsider as well as insider threats equally.
Keys to Protecting Payment Data or Payment Card System:
PCI Compliance guidelines recommend “Data Encryption + Tokenization” for securing the payment card system.
Data Encryption: We are dealing with credit card data encryption here. Online businesses, especially e-commerce websites, should be using only PCI-approved PTS (PIN Transaction Security) and SRED (secure reading and exchange of data) certified payment devices for carrying out credit card transactions. Because PCI only recommends – or certifies – devices which are highly secure and reliable.
Encryption is a technology which ensures the credit card information is “not transferred as simple text” which can be read easily. So all the information – credit card number, three-digit card verification code, other such sensitive details – which gets transferred when a customer generally swipes the card is encrypted before it even reaches the merchant environment. Therefore data confidentiality is assured.
Tokenization: This is a technology using which the sensitive data element is substituted with a non-sensitive equivalent – referred to as token – that has no extrinsic or exploitable meaning. So once the credit card data reaches merchant environment (after being encrypted), it is replaced with a token. A token is a string of alphanumeric code useless to hackers as they won’t be able to derive anything useful from it even if they get hold of it. Because the merchant environment they’ve compromised does not have access to the “clear credit card data” they are looking for. Only a “representation of customer card information is stored” by the merchant, using which it can carry out online transactions safely.
Reduced Customer Turnover: When your business complies with PCI compliance, it means you have a secure payment card system in place. Naturally, you’ll have a higher percentage of customer patronage. Another way of looking at it is, your customer turnover rate will drop for good.
Reduced Compliance Burden: When your business doesn’t adhere to PCI compliance, two things can happen. Your security might get compromised badly, giving a bad reputation to your business. Not to mention the losses you’ll be incurring. And you may also face several penalties whenever you break their guidelines. All this will reduce if you become PCI compliant.
Prevent Credit Card Transaction Shutdown: In the rarest of rare cases, the PCI DSS council may decide to halt credit card transaction processing for your business while it investigates whether or not your company adequately safeguards payment card information. This is a situation you wouldn’t want to put yourself in. So it’s best to safeguard your online payment systems using appropriate technology. In other words, becoming PCI compliant definitely has its benefits.