The landscape for businesses of all types has rapidly shifted in our digital age and more and more of our financial transactions are occurring online. As a business, it’s essential for you to safeguard your data – as well as your customers’ – when you’re transacting online. In this age, you have to be operating on the digital playing field, so you need to know a thing or two about cybersecurity. This article will help you understand the basics.
Authentication, put simply, is any method by which you identify yourself as the authentic owner of an account. The most commonly used form of authentication is your password. Two-factor authentication, then, is any authentication that requires two identifiers. The linked article explains authentication well: it can be something you know (a password), something you have (a cell phone) or something you are (biometrics). Two-factor authentication protects you and your business if someone gains access to your passwords by preventing them from gaining access to your online transactions via those passwords only. You could opt for even more authentication requirements (multi-factor authentication), but there comes a point where you’re weighing security against efficiency, and efficiency usually wins out.
A Secure Socket Layer (SSL) Certificate is an excellent method of ensuring that your clients don’t get fooled by third parties who want to use your company name in order to scam them. SSL Certificates are granted by Certification Authorities (CAs) – they’re basically the online equivalent of a noble sealing a letter with a signet ring. A little known fact: there are actually three different types of SSL Certificates. The easiest one to get, domain validated (DV), simply verifies who owns the site – these certificates are often used by scammers because it makes their website seem more legitimate. Organizationally validated (OV) certificates are the ones most businesses will angle for – they ensure that the organization, their physical location, and their domain name are all validated by CAs. The third, extended validation (EV), requires you to submit corporate documents to CAs. When your website is SSL validated, your clients will know that it’s really you they’re transacting with.
Secure e-Commerce Platforms
This probably seems obvious, but in case it’s not – don’t use shady e-commerce platforms just because they offer you a discount. Go with proven players in the field – folks like Shopify or WooCommerce. Companies that have a reputation for handling transactions without breaches are heavily invested in keeping that reputation up, so you can rest easy knowing that they’ll handle your transactions with care.
Storing Payment Data
Those of you who can avoid storing payment data online – do so. Keep paper records of customer payment data and nothing else. Those of you who can’t avoid it, use a private server – one that’s not connected to the Internet, to store client payment data.
There are a number of other payment security tips that depend heavily on how you’re interacting with your clients online, and the nature of your business. Compass Accounting, A Winnipeg accounting firm, can help you assess your risk and give you tips to help secure your online transactions.