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Protecting Sensitive Cardholder Data in Today’s Hyper-Connected World

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Retailers that lacked significant digital presence pre-COVID are now reaching new audiences through e-commerce sites that are accessible anytime, from anywhere, on any device.

The payment processing system has steadily evolved over time. Greatly amplified by the COVID-19 pandemic, the use of electronic payment systems in this economy has soared nearly overnight. With online shopping at an all-time high as consumer behaviors shift toward more convenience and flexibility, cash is closer to becoming virtually obsolete. Modern-day conveniences such as curbside pick-up, in-home grocery deliveries, online banking and transactions through mobile apps are driving a non-cash way of life.

While the pandemic has become a catalyst for change, COVID-related disruptions to small and medium-sized businesses haven’t been easy. As 2021 unfolds, the coronavirus continues to test the financial fragility of this economy while forcing brick-and-mortar stores to manage through the unpredictability by moving parts of their businesses online.

Nevertheless, the digital marketplace is an exciting place to be. Retailers that lacked significant digital presence pre-COVID are now reaching new audiences through e-commerce sites that are accessible anytime, from anywhere, on any device. With a sophisticated cloud-based POS (point-of-sale) technology for retail, companies are offering the convenient experiences their customers crave both online and off. Cloud-based POS systems make it easier for businesses to sell merchandise and process payments on the internet. But the growing number of electronic transactions made via the internet attracts cybercriminals waiting to exploit weaknesses in the payment system’s design.

Retail Giant Target, Targeted

Far too often, feeble data security practices come with serious consequences. Target paid the largest data breach settlement in history back in 2017, after hackers obtained confidential payment information of more than 41 million customers. In most cases, costly mistakes like this are preventable with the right security software. Companies can safeguard against POS system hacks by implementing tighter digital security practices. Merchants dealing with sensitive data submitted online such as credit card payment information will want to protect their business from potential POS system intrusions.

Securing Both Ends

The most secure way to share information online is through end-to-end encryption. When both ends of the payment system are encrypted, the data exchanged in-between remains private and therefore safe from potential threats. Even law enforcement agencies that request access to an individual’s digital messages can’t view the data once end-to-end encryption technology has been installed, says the NY Times.

Hyper-Secure Electronic Payment Systems

Lightspeed POS uses end-to-end encryption, certified firmware and common security practices like two-factor authentication as extra security layers for sensitive customer data. In order to maintain a certain standard of payment security, a merchant must be PCI (Payment Card Industry) compliant. Lightspeed is designed with PCI compliance already built-in. As a result, the entire payment ecosystem is secure and retailers are equipped to eliminate any vulnerable points during the customer’s payment process.

Extra precautionary measures taken by many of today’s retailers involve the use of SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) encryption on their e-commerce sites. This security standard enables an encrypted link between a web browser and a server. Having an SSL certificate on one’s website means the sensitive data consumers share with a retail company is virtually invisible to cybercriminals.

Organizations Are Never Too Big to Be Hacked

What happened to Target and many other retail giants that fell victim to external attacks in the past is proof that even large multi-national businesses can be vulnerable. And surviving the hit of a data breach class-action settlement that initially impacted customer privacy is certainly no joke. Target paid a staggering 18.5 million dollars to settle the case, hoping the ramifications of their cybersecurity mal-practices would disappear. The truth of the matter is, the loss of customer loyalty after an event like this is a much larger problem with more complex consequences. But let’s face it, most businesses can’t afford to pay their way out of messy situations like Target did.

Whether a company is digitally experienced or just getting started, industries that rely heavily on electronic devices and systems to capture sensitive customer payment information need to take a proactive approach. Companies like Lightspeed offer solutions that constantly monitor the system for any suspicious activity.

Minimizing the Risks of Payment Fraud for a Brighter Future

While e-commerce has become an essential business strategy in today’s digital world, a successful electronic payment platform can only be one free of cyber-attacks. Failing to protect a customer’s personal data ultimately destroys a company’s reputation and many organizations cannot bounce back from that kind of hit.

Although 2020 brought with it countless closures, layoffs, and obstructive impacts on major cities that have always relied heavily on tourism to survive, some digitally savvy businesses flourished. Take multinational e-commerce giant Amazon for example. Not only did the company thrive in the last year, but it also surpassed analyst expectations and saw a whopping 37% increase in earnings during 2020’s third quarter alone, while most businesses experienced economic shock.

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