When most transactions happen on the web, the topic of online payment security methods has become a favorite on tabloids and news bulletins. The COVID pandemic has turned even those who were a bit skeptical with stuff like shopping online into firm believers. Everyone wants contactless payments as much as possible and enjoys the convenience that comes with modern-day living.
However, cybercriminals have become smarter with every passing minute. With most people actively making online payments and venturing into things like cryptocurrency, the calf has never been fatter for hackers. Small businesses tend to be the hackers’ favorite meat probably because they may not have the resources to invest in complex security solutions. Any security breach will harm your business reputation and even incur heavy financial losses.
As a small business owner, the worst mistake you can make is assuming that hackers may not be interested in your meager startup earnings. You are mistaken. As long as you accept online payments, there is so much juice for them to tap, such as credit card numbers, email addresses, money, and so on. Therefore, you must arm yourself with the best security measures for e payment before venturing down this path.
Online Payment Best Practices to Master
1: Employ a trusted ecommerce platform
First things first, if you are going to start an online business, you will need a highly reliable and trusted eCommerce platform. Some of the market leaders in this field, such as Shopify and WooCommerce, have invested heavily in ensuring their platform’s security remains top-level and foolproof. This means that even as you invest in proper ways to safeguard your store’s online payments, someone is watching your back.
Different eCommerce stores may require different designs, modes of operations, and security packages, but even as you look for the eCommerce platform that offers the best store design tools and prices, don’t forget to keep a laser eye on security. Read online reviews concerning whether that eCommerce platform has suffered serious threats in the recent past and how that was handled.
2: Install an SSL Certificate
Secure Socket Layer (SSL) certificates have shot in popularity in recent times. As cyber-attacks became prevalent the world over, browser companies and other security stakeholders saw the need to make certain security protocols mandatory and no longer optional. One of these protocols is SSL encryption that encrypts the data being exchanged between a web server and a client browser.
This means that any data that customers input on your website, whether usernames, passwords, email addresses, or credit card details, is encrypted. Any intruder will only see some complex characters that cannot be decoded. You can acquire a high-quality SSL Certificate from ClickSSL at affordable rates to ensure that your customer information never falls into the wrong hands.
3: Source, a reliable hosting partner
Once you have already picked a trusted eCommerce platform for your store, you will need to make a similar informed decision when choosing your hosting partner. Some of the leading hosting companies offer extensive security features along with the hosting plan, such as actively monitoring your website’s traffic and thwarting any malicious traffic like in attempted DDOS attacks.
Your host should also ideally have huge traffic capacity so that your store can withstand high-traffic periods such as during flash sales, Black Friday, holiday seasons, and so on. Huge capacity also increases the chances of surviving a distributed denial-of-service attack where your servers can withstand the sudden leap in traffic. Research and compare different hosting plans before settling on one.
4: Comply With PCI/DSS regulations
If you want to get the green light to start selling online and accept payments, you must first comply with the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) requirements. The reason is that for you to be allowed to process payments using trusted brands like American Express, VISA, and MasterCard, you must be vetted whether you truly fit the bill and that customer data will be safe.
The PCI DSS council seeks to educate online merchants on online payment safety best practices. They also closely monitor your transaction system to ensure that everything is working smoothly and fix any vulnerability they find. To get approved by this council, your store must meet 12 set requirements seeking to ensure customer data safety.
5: Avoid storing sensitive customer payment info
One clever way to avoid falling victim to preying hackers is to avoid storing the fat meat they are looking for: payment information of your customers. After all, you cannot breach or steal what is not there. To do this, you can be processing payments through third-party gateways like PayPal, Skrill, and Stripe. This way, once a customer has added all needed items to the shopping cart and proceeded to check out, they will be directed to that third-party site.
You can have cloud data backups or offline ones such that only the most necessary customer data is stored on your website servers. You can set up an automatic system that gets rid of unnecessary data once a backup is made, for instance, and this way, even if a witty hacker managed to penetrate your system, they would find nothing to chew on.
6: Enable two-factor authentication
If your customers create user accounts on your website to simplify shopping so as not to have to keep entering the same information over and over again, you must secure their user accounts through two-factor authentication. Basically, on top of the username and password that one is required to input on the website, there will also be a one-time pin sent to the user’s phone number.
This way, if a hacker can somehow access a customer’s login details, they would not manage to log in if they don’t have physical access to their mobile phone. On top of this, the customer will be notified immediately if a malicious sign-in attempt is made on their account, and they can take necessary action like changing passwords.
7: Always Stay Updated
When you are running an ecommerce store, it’s always important to ensure that all your operating systems, software, web applications, plug-ins, and extensions remain up-to-date. One main way that hackers manage to penetrate a small business website is by using web crawlers to constantly scan for any websites that may not have updated their systems to current versions.
If they find you still riding on outdated applications and systems, they will easily manipulate the known vulnerabilities to access your store. Once this happens, there is no telling the irreparable damage that they can hammer on you. Ensure that all your software, applications, operating systems, and extensions are updated to current versions. Whenever a new patch is released, be the first to install it.
8: Get a liability insurance cover
Although you may implement all the above-listed tips to the letter, it is wise to remain open-minded to the possibility that a hacker may still manage to pin you to the wall despite all your efforts. When such an unfortunate incident occurs, one sure thing that can cover you from the dire repercussions of data breaches has an insurance cover in place that will protect you from all financial liabilities resulting from the hack.
Online payment security remains one of the constant headaches of the 21st century. When you are trying to make it as a small business owner, it’s good to keep in mind that hackers won’t ignore you just because your eCommerce store is just sprouting. You need to observe all the listed payment security tips religiously and keep researching to keep up with new trends.