If you run an e-Commerce website or take any kind of payment online, you want to make certain that your payment gateway is safe from hackers. If a hacker were to find and exploit a vulnerability in this gateway, they could easily collect your customers’ credit card information and use it as they see fit. This can lead to, at best, customers abandoning your business and, at worst, legal action taken against you for your lack of protection. If you’re wondering how secure your payment gateway is and what you can do to take steps to improve its security, here are some things you need to consider.
Payment Gateways Are Third-Party Tools
First, remember that a payment gateway is a third-party tool. It’s a service that authorizes credit card transactions, which means it’s vital to doing business online. Once a customer has entered their payment information into your website, it sends that information to the payment gateway for authorization from the customer’s bank or credit card company. This means you don’t have direct control over what type of security measures the payment gateway is using because it’s not something your company has created. The gateway is owned and operated by another company you’ve partnered with, which means you have little to no say in what security measures are implemented.
What you do have control over, however, is which payment gateway you decide to partner with. Because you can’t dictate security measures, you need to very carefully consider all of your options before you decide which gateway company to work with.
What Encryption Is Used?
A strong payment gateway makes use of point-to-point encryption or P2PE. This method encrypts data from the instant the payment gateway received it and along every step of the process, including sending the data to the customer’s bank or credit card company and returning the authorization (or failure message) to your website. If data isn’t encrypted at every point, a hacker can steal the credit card information.
Another factor to keep in mind is that gateways that offer stronger encryption have less risk of losing data, which means the gateway company doesn’t have to be as concerned about lawsuits and other costly issues. This means they can often offer lower costs since they are taking fewer risks.
What Type of Gateway Setup Is the Company Using?
Gateways typically fall into one of two categories: classic and modern. A classic gateway makes use of a direct merchant account, which you do have to apply for. These accounts generally have lower fees but maybe a little more difficult to integrate with your website. Modern gateways, on the other hand, are easier to set up, but they often charge more. They may also require customers go to the gateway’s website to finalize their payment, rather than do everything on your site. PayPal, for example, is a modern gateway that may require users to log into their PayPal account before finishing their transaction.
Do They Use Tokenization?
Tokenization is a method in which the credit card numbers entered are swapped with randomly generated characters. The code related to the transaction can be used by the gateway to decrypt the card information when needed. Without the code, the characters are useless. The code itself isn’t connected to the customer at all, so even if it were to be stolen, it would be useless as well. A hacker cannot gain any useful information if they steal tokenized data. Because of this, many gateways have begun using tokenization to reduce the chance of fraud and data theft.
Another benefit of tokenization is that it does not save any card information. You don’t have to hold any actual credit card information, only the token data, which means that you have nothing useful for hackers to attempt to steal.
How Easily Can You Integrate the Gateway?
If you have to create some kind of workaround or custom connection to make a gateway work with your eCommerce system, you may have just created a vulnerability. While most gateways do try to be compatible with as many different systems as possible, you may find one that just doesn’t quite connect right. In that case, you may want to consider a different option just so you don’t accidentally create a weak point for hackers to exploit.
Another factor to keep in mind is how well the gateway detects and stops fraud. Threat detection is vital to any system. The gateway you partner with should take a proactive stance in identifying any suspicious activity and stopping it before the payment goes through. This not only protects you, but it also protects your customers, and that’s absolutely necessary if you want to keep your reputation intact.
Is the Gateway PCI DSS Compliant?
PCI DSS is short for the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard, a set of guidelines that were established in 2006 to provide more secure payment options to eCommerce companies. While there’s nothing that requires a gateway to comply with the PCI DSS, you certainly want to look for one that is. When a gateway does comply with these standards, it means that they do not save any private financial information, including the customer’s name and credit card number, in their system. It also means that they encrypt all data before transmitting it, use firewalls to protect their networks, and have strong security policies and procedures in place to always keep your data safe.
You may also want to make your company PCI DSS compliant. This would entail training your employees to use data security best practices and using a point of sale system that has been determined to have strong security features. If you’re only an eCommerce company and have partnered with a compliant gateway, however, you may not need to implement PCI DSS compliance on your end.
Look for the Best Fit
There are many different payment gateway partners out there, and what works for one company may not work for another. While you can certainly start with a list of the top payment gateways, be aware that you may determine that none of those companies provides what you truly need. Don’t be afraid to continue your search until you find the payment gateway that provides the level of security you feel is necessary.