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10 ways to ensure secure online payments

Don’t put your clients’ information at risk. Uncover the best secure online payment tips to secure your clients’ payment information.

In today’s digital landscape, cybersecurity hazards are a significant concern for online businesses. Approximately 2,328 cyber crimes take place every day. And the global annual cost of cybercrime is anticipated to reach $8 trillion annually in 2023. A report by the FBI shows that at least 422 million individuals were impacted by data breaches in 2022. Sounds terrifying, doesn’t it?

Fraudsters are always on the lookout for vulnerabilities they can leverage to steal data. Consequently, businesses and their employees must act cautiously to safeguard their clients’ confidential information. Your brand’s reputation can depend on secure online payments—one data leak, and clients may jump ship for a competitor. 

Clients prefer paying for things with a credit card. According to a study done on client preferences by HoneyBook in partnership with Visa, 80% of clients prefer to pay with a credit card. Debit cards closely follow credit cards. To accept secure digital payments, independent business owners must first understand the security hazards associated with taking them. 

Understanding vulnerabilities will help independents use the right protocols to decrease security risks for clients that want to pay online. Creating a secure online payment process is part of doing business. In this article, we’ll go over the best secure online payment tips to guard your client and business information. We’ll also highlight the most secure online payment methods you can leverage.

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What do you need to know about secure online payments?

Taking secure online payments involves a series of steps. Taking these steps helps you avoid vulnerability to data breaches and unauthorized transactions.

All businesses must follow certain standards and protocols to ensure they can take secure online payments. One such crucial standard is Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS), which outlines specific rules for maintaining consistent payment security worldwide.

PCI DSS applies to all businesses that accept online payments via card. Independent businesses must handle cardholder data with utmost caution and implement the appropriate security requirements. The level of compliance needed depends on the number of transactions processed annually, with higher levels having stricter requirements.

The importance of security in online payment processing

With the emergence of eCommerce for products and services across the globe, more and more people prefer to pay online. This surge in online payment processing has also led to an increased risk of data breaches and cyber theft taking place. Therefore, every online business (big or small) needs to implement the right kind of payment security in order to take secure online payments.

Moreover, by establishing a secure payment infrastructure, businesses can instill trust and safeguard sensitive customer information. This includes protecting online invoices, which have become an integral part of modern eCommerce. Ensuring the right kind of payment security not only protects financial transactions but also fosters a sense of reliability and confidence among customers.

Use a platform that offers secure online payment processing

If you’re an independent business owner that uses HoneyBook, a clientflow management platform with secure online payment processing capabilities, security protocols are already in place. One more thing to take off your plate!

If you’re not using HoneyBook yet, you should know that in addition to secure payment processing through our online payment software, HoneyBook allows you to manage each client touchpoint in your clientflow from one app. That means from capturing and qualifying a lead to sending invoices, to taking payment and gathering feedback, you can manage the client interaction from “hey” to “pay.”

Pro tip

Your clientflow is the complete process of selling and delivering your services. Whether you’re emailing leads, signing a contract, sending an invoice, or taking payment–each step you take to deliver your services is part of your clientflow.

Different security protocols for taking secure online payments

Moving on, let’s have a look at the different types of online payment security.

Tokenization 

Tokenization replaces client payment information with a series of randomly generated tokens or characters. This leads to increased transaction security while reducing the need to manage sensitive customer data and minimizing data transmission over the Internet.

Address Verification Service (AVS)

AVS compares the address of the customer provided at checkout with the known address of the cardholder. It is important to note that AVS is useful only when paired with other fraud prevention methods.

SSL protocol

This is an internet protocol that encrypts website communications, which are crucial for secure payment processing. Customers can easily verify SSL usage by checking for a lock icon or ‘HTTPS’ in the website’s address.

Card Verification Value (CVV)

CVV is a three-digit code on the back of the credit card. It is meant to verify the purchaser has physical custody of the card.

3-D Secure or 3DS

A widely used payment security method, this analyzes over 100 data points such as IP address, transaction history, etc., to assess the risk of a transaction. The process involves collaboration between the issuer bank, the acquirer bank, and the protocol infrastructure to authenticate or challenge the transaction. If the transaction is deemed fraudulent, the customer may undergo additional identification such as one-time passwords (or OTP) to prevent scams.

Top 10 online payment security tips for independent businesses

Small businesses often don’t realize the risk they pose to themselves and their clients. They assume that hackers will only hack into the systems of bigger organizations. However, this is not true. According to Forbes, small businesses are three times more likely to be a target of cybercriminals as compared to larger companies.

Fortunately, there are some online payment security best practices that can protect businesses and their customers. Here, we will look at the most important ones.

1. Use two-factor authentication

Implementing two-factor authentication is a simple yet effective way of adding a layer of security to your digital payments process. It involves requesting the customers to supply an additional form of digital identification before they can complete a transaction.

For instance, many businesses send a unique code to the customer’s email or as a text message to their smartphone, which they must supply to authenticate the transaction. But make sure to make two-factor authentication as frictionless as possible.

2. Implement secure electronic transaction (SET)

SET is a framework and digital protocol that is designed to enhance the security of secure online payments. Developed in alliance with notable card companies like VISA and Mastercard, SET encrypts all credit card data, thus hiding personal information from fraudulent actors.

Additionally, SET also prevents merchants from viewing or accessing the cardholder’s personal information, further reinforcing the transaction’s security.

3. Get an SSL certificate for your website

SSL stands for Secure Sockets Layer. It is a security technology that encrypts communication between the customer’s web browser and payment service provider.

All web browsers support SSL. If your business website is directly processing a transaction, SSL must be installed. Having an SSL certificate displayed in the browser also makes customers feel more confident when they are doing business with you.

Choose a reputed certificate authority (CA) for your SSL certificate and make sure it covers all the necessary domains and subdomains associated with your website.

4. Verify every single transaction

With online transactions, it is hard to verify who is on the other side of the screen. However, to avoid fraudulent transactions, here are a few simple steps you can take.

  • Request the customers to manually enter their CVV or security code number
  • Check for address verification (AVS) match
  • Request a phone number so you can call in case of any discrepancy
  • Carefully look for suspicious patterns, such as unusually large orders or orders from geographic areas with a high rate of fraud
  • Validate the provided email address

5. Necessitate strong passwords

Cybercriminals try to hack into user accounts with the most frequently used password combinations of names, birthdays, and more. Requesting customers to sign up with a strong password can add a supplementary line of defense.

In an event where a customer cannot remember their password, there must be a ‘forgot your password’ functionality that enables them to reset their password.

6. Ensure PCI DSS Compliance

As discussed above, PCI DSS is a collection of compliance regulations and security protocols that major card schemes follow. Adhering to this compliance is required for any business that accepts credit or debit card payments.

PCI DSS Compliance ensures a safe and secure environment for credit/debit transactions with zero details left prone to theft or fraud.

7. Opt for a secure payment processing platform

If you take payments online, it is crucial to use a secure payment processing platform. Some examples of payment processing platforms include HoneyBook, Clover, and PayPal. 

HoneyBook is technically more than a payment processing platform, and offers a suite of tools to support independent business owners at every stage of their clientflow. Using a reputable payment processing platform can help save you the headache down the road of dealing with fraudulent charges and leaked data.

8. Refrain from storing customer payment data

It is advisable for businesses, especially small businesses, to not store any sensitive customer payment data. Most hackers target small-sized businesses owing to their lack of security. Therefore, it is best to avoid keeping this information to avoid it from falling into the hands of the wrong individuals.

For example, if you have a financial planning website that helps users save taxes efficiently, you would require every user’s financial details. But if you keep storing all the data, you increase the chances of a potential cyber threat.

The flip side of this is that if your platform is secure enough, you have less to worry about.

9. Educate employees about security protocols

Data breaches often occur due to human error. That’s why anyone accessing client information—whether it’s just you, or your employees—must be trained on how to handle sensitive information. Educate your employees on how to implement email encryption, and on how to identify and deal with suspicious texts or emails that may be phishing for login details.

Make them aware of suspicious email attachments that can contain malware. Also, explain the menacing effects of sharing sensitive information with unauthorized individuals. Finally, stress the significance of logging out of their workstations every time before they leave their desk, and using a personal hotspot instead of an open WiFi network. These are some of the best practices that can reduce the risk of data breaches due to human mistakes.

10.  Invest in cyber-liability insurance

Purchasing cyber-liability insurance is a proactive step that can safeguard your business against many potential risks and financial losses that occur due to cyber threats.

Despite your best efforts to secure your business operations, there is always a chance of dishonest employees or skilled hackers exploiting your clients’ details. Cyber-liability can cover your bases and provide coverage for many expenses related to a data breach. It can mitigate the financial impact of a cyber-attack and ensure that your business is well-equipped to handle such scenarios.

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The most secure online payment methods

Businesses must protect their customers by accepting only the most secure payment forms. Some of the safest online payment methods are also the most common:

Credit cards

Credit cards are indubitably the safest and most secure method for online payment.  All renowned credit card processors comply with PCI DSS guidelines. Additionally, credit cards use online security features such as fraud monitoring and encryption to keep the customers’ private details safe.

Debit cards

Small business owners can use debit cards for accepting payments as they are also governed by PCI compliance. Also, in most cases, debit card use from a peculiar internet protocol address can trigger supplementary identity verification measures.

ACH Payments 

ACH stands for Automated Clearing House. This kind of payment mode enables customers to directly transfer funds from their checking account to another bank account. ACH Payments adhere to several security protocols that ensure the customers’ private and confidential data is kept safe.

Mobile wallets

Nowadays, a plethora of digital wallets have emerged such as Amazon Pay, Apple Pay, etc. Clients benefit from such payment forms as they mask credit and debit card numbers. Businesses, on the other hand, benefit from this as the customers must use a digital PIN or fingerprint to authenticate the purchase.

Wire transfers

A wire transfer is a method of electronic fund transfer where money is sent from one bank account to another. The funds are transferred through a secure network such as SWIFT, i.e., Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication. Although this payment form is extremely safe, it is often used for large or international transactions. Also, they may involve a certain fee charged to the customers.

Offer secure online payments through a payment platform that does it all

Owning a business of your own has numerous perks. But, it also comes with many considerations. Among them is protecting your clients’ private financial information. You can follow the aforementioned tips to safeguard your customers’ details and keep yourself stress-free, or you can use a clientflow management platform with payment processing capabilities like HoneyBook that implements these safeguards for you.

HoneyBook is a clientflow management platform where you can communicate with clients, send invoices, receive secure online payments, and more. HoneyBook allows you to manage every client interaction from one place. 

Try HoneyBook‘s payment processing software

Customize your process for getting paid, whether you connect it to your service selection, scheduling, and/or contract.

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