Business Security

How to ensure the safety of online transactions for your business

Katie Chadd, 15 September 2020

Here's how your business can ensure that customer information is safe when making online transactions

From online banking to shopping, making transactions online is commonplace for consumers. The familiarity, regularity, ease, and efficiency of making online transactions can lull people into a false sense of security, and while your small business may already have safeguards in place, the internet is always susceptible to new threats. As such, you must take extra precautions to ensure that your customers’ personal and financial information is kept safe from data breaches. 

Where to begin with secure transactions

Comply with PCI DSS

Before accepting online payments, you must ensure your business complies with Payment Card Industry Data Security Standards (PCI DSS). Established in 2006, the PCI DSS promotes the safety and security of customer financial data and ensures your site meets the security requirements for accepting payments online. To achieve this, the PCI DSS checks for vulnerabilities in your online transaction system and if it finds any issues, you need to fix them to make sure your customers’ financial information is safe and secure.

SSL certificate

Any online retailer or business needs to have a Security Sockets Layer (SSL) protocol implemented on its website. An SSL certificate enables you to encrypt sensitive customer information, such as credit card details, that passes between a browser and web server during and after a transaction. 

Don’t store customer payment data

Storing sensitive information puts it at risk against cybercriminals and fraudsters. If a bad actor were able to access and steal your customer’s information, it could be detrimental to the reputation of your business.

For most online transactions, it’s common practice for the consumer to input their name and payment details into a form. Once the transaction has been completed, there’s no reason to store a customer’s financial information any longer. So, check what data is being logged by your systems and ensure financial data is not being kept. 

If you want to give your customers the option to save their details for next time to improve their shopping experience, you should use a trusted e-commerce service (see below). Creating bespoke processes for encrypting and storing financial data is suited to enterprises, but not so much for start-ups and small businesses. 

Choose a trusted e-commerce platform and processor

It can be difficult managing all the security measures on your own, which is why it’s ideal to find a reliable e-commerce platform and payment processor. That way, you can have the peace of mind that a trusted third-party will help provide extra security and help you to detect threats.

You should thoroughly research the most reputable e-commerce platforms and payment processors, paying attention to the types of industry they work with, before committing. Some trusted and popular e-commerce platforms include Shopify, BigCommerce, Magneto, amongst many others.

Use an Address Verification Service

Many online merchants use an Address Verification Service (AVS), a security tool that verifies whether the billing address provided by the cardholder matches the one associated with the card. During a credit or debit card transaction, the address is verified as part of the merchant’s request for authorization. The merchant then receives a response code from the credit or debit card processor and knows whether the transaction should be accepted or rejected. 

Sometimes, there can be a mismatch of the address because of misspelling or outdated information, for example. So, while an AVS is an effective way to prevent fraudulent transactions on debit and credit cards, it is not a guaranteed prevention method and could affect user experience if not properly tested.

Verify the transaction

As well as using an AVS to verify the transaction, there are other ways that you can protect your customers’ financial data and prevent fraudulent transactions. One way is to ask customers to enter their card security code (the 3 or 4 digit CVV number written on the card). 

There are also ways you can verify transactions even without a customer’s card details. For example, you should stay vigilant of patterns that seem unusual, such as a suspiciously large order from a low-spending returning customer. If this is the case, you should contact the customer and notify them immediately.

Use tokenization and encryption

Both tokenization and encryption are popular and effective ways of ensuring data is secure. The main difference between the two security methods is how they handle the data being processed:

  • Tokenization will remove data from a system and replace it with an associated value 
  • Encryption leaves the original information intact but makes it inaccessible without a proper key.

As the name suggests, tokenization uses tokens – random strings of characters that replace sensitive information, such as a 16-digit credit card number. If a token is then stolen, it will be useless to fraudsters as the vital financial information has already been replaced. Tokenization, therefore, improves payment security and reduces the chances of a data breach. 

When storing any sort of data, you should also make sure that it’s encrypted - adding another layer of security. Try using encryption tools such as digital wallets to securely accept payments. 

Educate yourself, your staff, and your customers

As a business owner, it is your responsibility to protect your customers’ personal and financial information. This means that it is up to you to conduct research into online security methods and keep up to date with current data breaches. Sharing this information with employees is also essential, as they will then be able to recognize unusual online activity and tackle any issues that may arise. You can also help to reduce breaches caused by human error

Don’t stop there though. Being able to openly communicate with your customers about potential security threats is just as important. Even if it’s via a simple blog post or monthly newsletter, sharing information with your customers around potential security threats will show that you are dedicated to their safety, helping them to trust your brand.

You could even offer your customers helpful tips and tools to educate them and help them protect themselves against fraudulent activity. Avast Secure Browser, for example, can give your customers secure privacy whenever any sort of payment information or sensitive data comes into play. They can use it for online banking, online shopping, managing investments, and more.

Protect your business with antivirus 

While your third-party payment processor may have strong security measures in place, it’s never impossible for fraudulent activity to go unnoticed. Therefore, it is your responsibility to recognize patterns, keep the purchasing process under control, and reduce the risk of fraud at every step of checkout. 

This is why you should implement trusted security measures and provide effective solutions to ensure all customer information is safe when making online transactions. Avast’s Next Gen Antivirus solutions provide advanced security for businesses, protecting any devices with network access, such as servers, and blocking untrusted network traffic.

You may also be interested in our guide to keeping your business accounts secure. Alternatively, find out everything you need to know about file sharing and business security

Unsure which antivirus product is right for your business? Check out the Avast Business Help Me Choose tool to find the best protection for your network and endpoints.

Try out our Help Me Choose tool