While the notion of paying and being paid has remained consistent over time, contemporary payments have significantly reimagined how consumers make payments and how businesses earn, transfer, store, and process consumer payment data. Payment technologies have improved, making payments more unsophisticated and effortless; nonetheless, payment data breaches have evolved, and businesses now have to comply with additional payment standards.
Payment security continues to be a concern for online businesses, especially when multiple business entities get influenced by payment security in the payment transaction flow. The security of card-present and card-not-present (eCommerce) transactions are impacted by how payment data gets sent, processed, and stored.
Payment security applies to Merchants, Payment Gateways, Payment Service Providers, Acquiring and Issuing Banks, and any entity that transmits, processes, or retains cardholder data.
In this post, we will define payment security, payment security standards and compliance for businesses, and payment security practices.
What is Payment Security, and how do I achieve it?
Payment security is the safeguarding of a customer’s privacy, data, and, most importantly, their money. As a Merchant, Payment Service Provider, Payment Gateway, or Bank, you must implement the highest level of security to ensure the safety of your customers’ data.
PCI standards consist of requirements that originate from the payment card brands Visa, MasterCard, Discover, American Express, and JCB. The scheme requires entities to comply with PCI standards such as PCI PIN, PA-DSS, P2PE, PCI DSS, 3DSecure, and more.
According to the Payment Card Industry Security Standards Council (PCI SSC), every entity that stores, processes, and transmits cardholder data and sensitive authentication must comply with the PCI DSS.
PCI compliance refers to the three pillars of cybersecurity in its technical and operational standards, namely people, process, and technology. All three play an essential part in securing cardholder data in card-present and card-not-present (eCommerce) transactions.
PCI compliance assists in achieving optimal payment security by protecting payment channels, improving alignment with industry standards, and enhancing your understanding of emerging risks and ways to mitigate identified threats.
Examples of technical measures to achieve payment security
TLS, specifically TLS v1.2 or above, is the industry standard for communications over public and insecure networks.
TLS is a cryptographic protocol designed to ensure an authentic link between two parties across an insecure network. Securing cardholder data in transit is critical. Using a reliable version of TLS eliminates vulnerabilities like Man-in-the-Middle (MiTM), in which an attacker intercepts data between the communication channel of the two parties exchanging the data.
A typical example is the transmission of a card payment made through an online merchant website, where the customer provides the Primary Account Number, Expiry date, and CV2 data.
Tokenisation is a non-mathematical procedure that converts sensitive data into non-sensitive data, which is referred to as a “token.” A “token” has no exploitable value, unlike the original readable sensitive data.
Cryptography is a mathematical approach that uses an algorithm and a key to convert a plaintext communication into ciphertext, or unreadable text. Cryptography may be used for a variety of payment security purposes, including protecting cardholder data at rest.
Point-to-point encryption is one of the most widely used technologies in the payment industry for securing data in transit. Here the cardholder data is encrypted at the point-of-interaction of a card-present transaction, rendering it unreadable to any attacker. The data is readable only by the receiving party when the matching cryptographic key is used to decode the ciphertext, converting it back to plaintext.
Hashing is an irreversible cryptographic method to convert plaintext data into a unique string of text. Because hashing data at rest is irreversible, an attacker cannot reverse the hash text back to its original plaintext, rendering the data worthless to the attacker. However, several hashing algorithms, such as MD5, SHA1, have been broken.
Secure data at Ease
Establishing payment security can be a challenging task.
Keeping up with industry standards and maintaining a compliance status will help you achieve your payment security goal significantly. Payment security extends beyond the technological methods outlined above. It also includes methods like raising people’s awareness, analysing and treating threats, performing network vulnerability assessments and penetration testing.
SecuriCentrix can assist your business to achieve payment security by not only helping you achieve compliance, but also work with you to achieve security objectives and incorporate measures to build your people, process, and technology to align with compliance.
Our approach is security first. Implement business as usual (BAU) security controls and processes, and PCI compliance takes care of itself.
As a leader with PCI frameworks, SecuriCentrix helps organisations meet compliance mandates while building a pragmatic approach to mitigating cyber risk.
Our expert teams specialise in PCI assessments applicable to merchants, banks, payment gateway and switches, and travel industry and payment application vendors. SecuriCentrix has the breadth of technical capability within each area and can help organisations validate every payment ecosystem.
We at SecuriCentrix want the best for the best and are not willing to let you succumb to any threats.