business

A business owner has the duty to keep customers’ sensitive information safe when they make transactions.

By Sonia Bell

The responsibility to provide security is even more when you are doing business online. E-businesses are becoming more prevalent as more people get to understand the many benefits of having an e-commerce site. More shoppers are also developing an affinity for online buying and making payments via company websites.

Establishing an e-commerce site is easy. Keeping it secure from breaches is another thing. Your small e-business not only needs to provide a seamless customer experience while shopping online but also a smooth payment experience. If customers don’t encounter any problems when making payments, they are encouraged to become repeat customers, and it also increases the number of referrals.

How do you ensure the data your customers provide during online transactions remains private and confidential? The following are 8 tips on how to secure online transactions for your small e-business according to the data security specialist at a health company Dylan Menders.

1. Research on recent data breaches

Information is power. One of the best ways to get ahead of the game is equipping yourself with knowledge about current data breach trends. You can use such information to put protective mechanisms on your site from any potential risks out there. Moreover, you will have an opportunity to train and educate your employees and customers about an imminent security threat before they become victims.

2. Collect relevant data only

Only request for information that you know you will use. Placing CTAs in landing pages make it easy to request any data from customers and some of which is not relevant to the transaction in any way. Collecting data that is not relevant to the transaction puts you at risk of penalties for losses in case there is a breach.  Don’t regret later. Use CTAs that ask for relevant information only. Many customers are reluctant to complete online transactions when they feel like you are asking too many personal details.

3. Don’t store customer payment information

According to the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act(FACTA), 2003, it is illegal to keep any of your customers financial information. It’s a requirement for most online transactions that the customer provides their name and credit card numbers. However, once the transaction is complete, you don’t need such information anymore. You should find a way to get rid of it. Holding on to such information in your online server puts it at risk of being hacked. It can be detrimental to your small business if customers data is accessed by the wrong people. It might lead to reputation damage or even liability claims. If you must store sensitive payment information about your customers, save it in offline storage where it’s safe from hackers.

4. Encrypt sensitive data

Your customer’s transaction information should only be accessed by people in your small business who have authorization or have a need for it. Don’t share this information with any employees in your business because it increases the risk of your customers’ data being hacked. Limit access to sensitive information by using cryptographic keys, certificates, and strong passwords to protect the data from unauthorized access by the wrong people.

5. Update! Update! Update!

You need to conduct frequent updates of your web applications. Doing this ensures any loopholes, vulnerabilities, and malware that exists in outdated applications are repaired. The presence of such loopholes usually makes your customers’ information vulnerable to breaches.  According to Marc Laliberte, an information security threat analyst, unpatched application and extensions make your eCommerce site an easy target. Hackers are always web crawling looking for the slightest flaws in your web to exploit. Stay one step ahead by signing up on an automatic system update that will keep your online transactions system safe even when you forget to download an important safeguard. In this way, you will protect your application from viruses too.

6. Comply with PCI DSS

The first step your small e-business should take before accepting online payments is to ensure your payments system is PCI compliant. The Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard Council was established in 2006 to promote the safety and security of customers financial data. It ensures your site meets the minimum security requirements for accepting online payments. It also educates eCommerce business on online safety strategies and how to maximize their site’s security. The PCI DSS checks for vulnerabilities in your online transactions system and fixes them. It ensures your customers’ sensitive financial data is secure from hacks from the start.

7. Use a trusted and secure eCommerce platform and payment processor

There are many eCommerce platforms for accepting online payments out there, and so are payment processors to partner. Look for the most reputable payment processor and partner with them. You will enjoy the benefits of their security measures. Use a highly rated eCommerce platform to accept payments. Make sure that it has current security measures and is constantly updated.

8. HTTP+SSL=HTTPS

Security Sockets Layer(SSL) is a vital technology that establishes an encrypted link between a browser and a web server. The encrypted link ensures sensitive customer data that passes between a browser and web server remain private during and after a transaction. For more secure encryption, go beyond SSL and combine with HTTP to get HTTPS which protect your business from impersonation attacks. The protocol builds customers trust and increases their peace of mind when transacting.

Final words

For any business, the customer should always come first. Use the above tips to secure online transactions for your small e-business and take care of your clients. You will need to invest a lot of time, money, and effort to put the measures in place but it will be worth it. It is advisable to never let your guard down. Hackers are always crawling on websites looking for the slightest vulnerabilities to exploit for their own malicious ends. Adopt a holistic mechanism that provides 24/7 protection. It will ensure your customers get a seamless experience and their data remains secure at all times. A protected website improves the credibility of your business. Secure your online transactions today and provide your customers with the experience they deserve.

Sonia Bell is a freelance marketing consultant and entrepreneur. She is interested in researching in the field of marketing psychology and artificial intelligence. Sonia is an expert writer at in such topics, as marketing, health, company development, and running business.

Secure online stock photo by Kite_rin/Shutterstock