Modern-day technology is now more accessible than ever before. The payment automation tech previously available only to enterprise organizations is now making its way to small businesses. A recent survey by Verizon shows that 63% of small and medium-sized business owners are now transitioning to digital and online operations. Moreover, 77% of these businesses have added or upgraded technologies to support connectivity. Affordability and ease of use are the key driving factors for the adoption of modern tech at an unprecedented pace. We already know that technology increases efficiency, improves profit margins, and reduces redundant work. However, did you know that this progress comes at a cost?
An improper adoption of technology can lead to security loopholes that jeopardize sensitive business and customer information. Business owners new to the world of technology should ideally partner with reliable third-party service providers during the adoption process. They should also prepare frameworks and have an excellent tech-selection program to implement new tools without potential security hazards.
In this blog, we discuss the following:
- Different Types of Website Security Threats for Website
- How to Get Started with a Cyber Security Plan for Website?
- Security Threats and Cyber Plan for Mobile Devices
- How to Implement a Secure Payment System - The iCG Way
We also give practical advice to business owners who want to start their data security journey by discussing:
- What are Secure Checks (eChecks)?
- How are eChecks More Secure?
- Best Practices for Secure ACH Transactions
- Top Benefits of ACH Technology
- Other Top Security Measures for ACH Transactions
Why Do You Need Data Security?
Most organizations host their data on web servers to make it more accessible to their employees and customers. However, making this critical data accessible via the internet makes it the most vulnerable component of your company’s network. Luckily, there are ways in which cybersecurity experts and business owners work together to strengthen the overall network infrastructure and protect sensitive information.
Different Types of Website Security Threats
There are two leading causes of a security breach in complicated computer networks. They include:
- Improper implementation
- Human error
Businesses tackle the problem of improper implementation by partnering with reliable technology partners and cybersecurity experts. They invest thousands (sometimes millions) of dollars in state-of-the-art technologies and licenses to prevent malware attacks.
The human error component is trickier to handle. Businesses often have strong security guidelines and administrator access to accounts that prevent mishaps. They often limit information via RBAC (Rules-Based Access) policies and share only critical information with the employees that need it to do their jobs correctly. Hackers usually try to attack computer networks using one of the following ways:
- Software bugs
- Distributed Denial-of-Service (DDoS) attacks
- Structured Query Language (SQL) injection
- Lightweight Directory Access Protocol (LDAP) injection
- Cross-site scripting (XSS) attack
- Compromised external server
- Illegally downloaded software
How to Get Started with a Cyber Security Plan for Website?
Plan and Address the Security Aspects: All organizations should ideally prepare network-access and security documentation highlighting different application users’ roles. This document should address the access and roles of IT and Non-IT professionals in the organizations. It should also document steps the organization needs to take in the event of a security breach.
Implement Security Management Practices and RBAC: Companies should train their employees on security management practices and rules such as:
- Changing password periodically
- Not installing unverified third-party applications
- Using a VPN while accessing the company network
Verify Web Server Operating Systems: The IT team at the organization must change default hardware and software configurations while managing and setting up the web server for the first time. They should also disable and remove unnecessary applications and services before going live.
Verify Web Server Applications: Unnecessary web server applications are an accessible entry point for hackers. Deleting or deactivating them is the first step to data security. The IT team should also install necessary Web Application Firewalls (WAF) to prevent security breaches.
Manage CMS (Content-Management-System) and Published Content: No proprietary business information or sensitive customer information should go live on the website. Businesses that collect card information while processing payments should do so over an iFrame or a payment processor’s secure payment gateway. Companies should partner with a PCI-compliant payment systems provider to fulfill their debit and credit card processing needs.
Prevent Unauthorized Access or Modification of Content: Only a limited number of individuals across the organization should access the website CMS.
Use Multi-Factor Authentication and Cryptographic Technologies: Multi-factor authentication and cryptographic technologies that hide passwords prevent hackers from gaining access to core application systems.
Invest in Regular Web Server Security: Application and website security is not a one-time activity. Instead, organizations should invest in the best web hosting and maintenance practices to protect their sites.
Adopting faster payment systems? Here’s how you can detect and prevent fraud.
Security Threats and Cyber Plan for Mobile Devices
A significant portion of internet users today access the internet via smartphones and tablets. Most application security measures for websites also apply to mobile devices. However, smartphones and tablets often require an additional layer of security. Here are the top threats to mobile devices:
- Data Loss
- Social engineering attacks
- Resource abuse
- Data integrity threats
Employees that use mobile applications to access company networks should adopt the following additional measures to prevent a cybersecurity threat:
- Install security software on smartphones
- Encrypt data on mobile devices
- Update software from reliable sources regularly
- Protect their phones with a PIN, face ID, and password
- Follow best practices for email, texting, and social sharing
- Report stolen equipment immediately
- Wipe devices clean before disposal or handover
How to Implement a Secure Payment System - The iCG Way
Hackers often exploit payment systems to steal sensitive customer information such as debit and credit card data, passwords, PINs, etc. Incorporating a secure payment system is the first step toward growing businesses online. Companies must protect their customers’ card transactions by implementing various technologies while carrying out online payments.
Here are a few tips on how you as a business owner can get started with secure payment systems with iCheckGateway.com.
Tip 1: Catalog all places where you have customer data saved
Cataloging all areas where vital data is held will help you identify the most vulnerable sites in your network. You can then use this knowledge to strengthen your network’s security further.
Tip 2: Schedule a call with the experts at iCheckGateway.com to evaluate your technology requirements
The three main stakeholders of your security process are your IT team, your payments provider, and cybersecurity experts (either in-house or an external team). You should ideally consult with all of them on a call and decide on technologies that are a must-have for increased security. Some of the most popular must-have secure payment technologies include:
- Account Validation
Tip 3: Define security documentation and RBAC
Security documentation highlights the technology selection and implementation process and the key stakeholders that access the given applications.
Tip 4: Setup a timeline to review and update security guidelines regularly
The best payment technology providers go beyond the implementation stage. They offer regular updates and keep their customers informed with the latest security measures and rule changes. They also have a highly responsive and accessible customer support team to ensure maximum website uptime.
Tip 5: Educate employees and customers on best practices
Lastly, businesses should educate customers and internal employees on the best data security practices to minimize fraud.
The market is filled with payment solutions and technologies that make the lives of business owners easier. These technologies increase customer satisfaction and profit margins by improving baseline efficiency. Implementing innovative payment technologies will help business owners reduce processing costs and adopt complementary solutions that automate various financial functions. ACH is one such payment method that business owners should consider adopting. The following section discusses the modern check technology called eChecks powered by ACH.
What are Secure Checks (eChecks)?
An electronic check, aka eCheck, is the electronic/online version of a paper check. eChecks offer more convenience and speed over conventional paper check transactions. The ACH (Automated Clearing House) network provides the platform for processing these eChecks. eChecks allow the receiver of funds to directly withdraw an amount from the sender’s bank account electronically.
Transactions via eCheck are protected by various layers of authorization and encryption technologies. A receiver of funds cannot extract funds from the sender’s account without explicit authorization (often written, telephonic, or online) first. A business carries out an eCheck transaction with the following steps:
- Step 1: Authorization Request - Collect authorization for a one-time or recurring payment from the customer.
Here’s a guide on how to fill out authorization forms.
- Step 2: Payment Set-up - Insert authorization and customer’s payment information data into a payment processing software like iCheckGateway.com.
- Step 3: Process Payment - The payment processor will automatically process the payment and transfer the funds from the customer’s account to the merchant’s account on the due date.
This comprehensive guide will help you set up ACH for payment processing.
How are eChecks More Secure?
The ACH network that processes eCheck is regarded as one of the world’s safest networks for monetary transactions. Most fraud on the ACH network occurs due to human error or gross negligence since ACH transactions require explicit authorization from the sender. Financial institutions, businesses, and customers who follow the best data security strategies and practices rarely encounter fraud.
Nacha (National Automated Clearing House) works with the Department of the Treasury and Bureau of the Fiscal Service (Fiscal Service) to create a strict set of rules and regulations that minimize the potential of fraud on the network. Moreover, Nacha updates these rules/mandates mentioned in the Nacha Operating Rules & Guidelines book to counter hackers and fraudsters. The Bureau of the Fiscal Service participates in the ACH network annually to launch an updated version of rules and regulations. You can access the latest version of these amendments on the Federal Register website.
Apart from Nacha, other bodies like FinCEN, FFIEC, FDIC, and OCC also periodically produce and update regulatory guidance practices. You can access the latest regulatory guidance by these governing bodies on Nacha’s official website.
Best Practices for Secure ACH Transactions
Merchants and consumers should follow certain best practices to prevent unauthorized access to their funds. They should protect their data while sending money by verifying and reverifying the payment portals. Hackers misuse the information security loopholes to access sensitive customer and company data. However, businesses avoid attacks from these hackers by implementing the right technology and periodic maintenance.
Collect and Keep Authorization: Merchants should collect and store authorization for ACH transactions behind encrypted vaults. They should store these authorizations even after completion of transaction or termination of relationship/contract with the customer for audit and financial dispute handling.
Limit Access Controls: Only a limited number of individuals across the merchant organization should have access to the core virtual terminal of the ACH processing application. Limiting access control on a need-to-know basis helps organizations reduce the potential for data breaches and security leaks.
Check Bank Statements Periodically: Merchants and consumers should check their bank statements periodically. They should also report any discrepancy with their ACH operator and concerned authorities as soon as possible.
Partner with a Reliable Third-Party Technology Provider: A reliable third-party sender and technology provider helps merchants adopt best practices to protect corporate and personal data. These partners also bring various helpful technologies to the table to increase efficiency and improve profit margins.
Top Benefits of ACH Technology
Low Processing Cost: ACH technology is a more cost-effective alternative to card payments.
Fast Transfers: Technological advancements have made transfers on the ACH network faster than ever before. Now, several financial institutions support same-day ACH transfers while protecting data.
Automated Transfers: Merchants and consumers can automate their bill payments by quickly creating recurring ACH transactions.
Additional Security: Reliable payment gateway providers encrypt sensitive data to offer extra security.
Learn more about the benefits of ACH technology.
It is important to note that ACH is not a replacement for wire transfers or credit and debit cards. The best merchants leverage multiple modern-day payment methods to offer added convenience to their customers while saving costs. The most popular payment methods include digital wallets, debit/credit cards, ACH, cryptocurrencies, loyalty programs, reward cards, paper checks, and cash. Depending on the type of business, merchants must accept a combination of these payment methods to reach a larger customer base.
Other Top Security Measures for ACH Transactions
Merchants can further increase the security of their ACH transactions by adopting the following complementary technologies.
Check Verification: Real-time check verification helps merchants identify fraudulent or invalid checks. This technology allows them to prevent costly check returned fees. Learn more about check verification.
Data Encryption and Data Masking: Data encryption for sensitive customer data helps merchants reduce liability while collecting payments online. Technologies like iFrame and hosted payment portals allow merchants to collect payments from customers without storing sensitive payment information on their servers.
Account Validation: Real-time account validation helps merchants identify false/invalid accounts and confirm customer identity. Learn more about account validation.
Negative-Data Database: Merchants that leverage an active negative-data database quickly identify and report fraudsters.
PCI-Compliance: PCI-compliant payment processors reduce the liability on the merchant end by taking care of the PCI scope on their payment portals.
Today third-party service providers have thousands of options at all price points while choosing a reliable payment gateway. Ideally, a service provider should choose a balance of the right technologies and discounts while helping their merchants. They should consider the scope of scalability while selecting a technology provider that meets the needs immediately. A long-term sustainable partnership is the best route for most merchants, even if it is available at a slightly higher entry cost. Changing technologies or providers at a later stage is a huge hassle, so choosing the right one from the get-go can save you a lot of headaches.
If you are considering partnering with payment technology providers that offer seamless scalability and excellent customer service, get in touch with our team.