Four Tips to Improve Your Customers’ Data Security

By Cristine Sommers | 20 Jan 2016

In the wake of a number of high-profile data breaches, customers are increasingly concerned about the data security. Here are four simple tips to help retailers ensure their customers’ credit card data is secure.

Online shopping in Australia has skyrocketed in popularity in recent years. Goods like electronics, clothing and accessories have become especially popular among online shoppers. According to aheadWorks, 32 percent of Australian buyers spend more time shopping online than in-store, and that figure is only expected to grow. This means a huge amount of credit card information is sent and received on a daily basis, making Australian shoppers susceptible to data breaches.

A number of high-profile data breaches has rocked the online retail community over the past few years. With online retail evolving to include more mobile shopping, which is even harder to secure, shoppers are more concerned than ever with protecting their personal information, especially credit card information.

When you start accepting money from customers online, you are faced with a great deal of responsibility. You have to make sure shoppers’ private data is secure both during and after the payment process. Demonstrating to customers that you place a premium on data security helps to create trust, making customers more inclined to shop with you. Fortunately, there are numerous solutions out there designed to help you secure your customers’ data. Here are a few precautions and safeguards you can take:

  1. Choose a secure e-commerce platform

E-commerce platforms basically function as your online storefront where customers enter their private credit card information to make a purchase. There is a lot to consider when choosing the e-commerce platform that will work best for your business. You want to be sure it is visually appealing and easy to use. Most importantly, your e-commerce platform should be secure and safe to help you protect your customers’ credit card data.

Businesses can choose between open-source platforms, which allow store owners to customise the design and user experience, and fully hosted e-commerce platforms, which are less customisable. With open-source platforms, business owners are responsible for maintenance, troubleshooting and protecting data. Fully hosted platforms take some of the worry away from businesses. Fully hosted platforms generally monitor and test networks to ensure they’re secure and work to ensure your transactions are Payment Card Industry (PCI) compliant.

  1. Ensure your business is PCI compliant

If your business accepts, processes, transmits or stores cardholder data, you are required to comply with PCI Data Security Standards (PCI DSS), no matter the size of your business. The PCI DSS are a specific set of security standards that lay out the technical and operational requirements for accepting or processing card transactions. The PCI DSS are designed to protect cardholder data through a secure network. Not only does this protect your customer data, it enhances your business reputation among consumers, banks and credit card companies.

You should perform regular PCI scans to lessen the risk of your e-commerce platform becoming vulnerable to hacking attempts. The PCI provides a self-assessment questionnaire designed to help you assess the security of your cardholder data. If you use a fully hosted platform, be sure it is up to date. Companies that fail to comply with the PCI compliance standards risk losing the ability to process credit card payments, and may be subjected to fines and audits.

  1. Implement multiple security measures

Regardless of whether you are on an open-source self-hosted platform or are paying for a fully hosted solution, you should be aware of what security measures are in place. One of the most basic, but necessary, security measures you can implement is an SSL Certificate. This small data file creates a secure connection between a browser and a server by activating the https protocol. If your business does not have a secure connection, the information being transmitted easily could be compromised.

Businesses also could add other protections like firewalls, which are an essential aspect in stopping criminals before they can breach your network and gain access to your private details. You also could use an encryption program, which keeps data safe by altering information on the computer into unreadable codes. Certified ethical hackers can also be employed to test your site’s security by testing for weak points.

  1. Don’t store sensitive data

There are few reasons businesses need to keep and store customer credit card information like numbers, expiration dates and security codes. The information should be used to safely process the transaction, but not kept for extended periods. The longer a business holds on to data, the more chances there are for it to be compromised, and your company could be held responsible, not to mention the irreparable damage done to your reputation and customer trust.

If private customer data must be stored, businesses should have a policy in place limiting who can access that data. The fewer people you have accessing the information the less likely it will be breached through company exposure. Employees also should be trained on how to handle the data, and they should know who else has access to the information.

When it comes to protecting your customers’ credit card data from cybercriminals, finding the right solution needs to be a top priority. You want to make sure their information is protected so they remain loyal customers, but safeguarding their data also could help your business avoid issues like chargebacks. Proactively working to keep customer credit card data secure can be beneficial to everyone involved.


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