Ai in payments

Credit card fraud is at an all-time high. Last 2020, there had been over 393,207 credit card fraud reports in the United States alone. It was written as the second most common type of identity theft. If you’re a business holding huge amounts of this type of data, you’re the main target for such breaches.

Partnering with top-rated credit repair professionals helps you with the identity theft situation. They can investigate inaccurate information on credit reports. This is on top of repairing bad credit standing. However, the process can take a very long time. That’s why identity theft prevention is better than repairing the damages done.

Securing customers’ credit card information is one of any businesses’ responsibilities. If this data got hacked, you will lose customer trust. Aside from that, it will also cost you a large sum of money.

One way of securing credit card information is through a company’s database. However, there are requirements for you to safeguard them from cyber threats. It is also important that you understand the risks that database storage poses.

The PCI Standard

The PCI developed a set of policies and procedures due to credit card security issues. It improves the security of credit card transactions. Not only that, but it also protects cardholders from identity theft.

To guarantee its safety, the PCI standard requires every business to have a number of security measures. When employing payment providers to process credit card payments, PCI compliance is a must.

It is made up of 12 standards that cover the processing, storage, and transport of credit card data. These include:

  • Database encryption
  • Data transfer encryption (SSL)
  • System access management techniques
  • System modification tracking
  • Firewall setup
  • Anti-virus software, and
  • Physical access to the hardware storing credit card information

PCI Compliance requires levels of monitoring and reporting. And this depends on the quantity of credit card transactions a company does each year.

What Credit Card Information Can Businesses Store?

To adhere to PCI Standards and secure clients’ credit card information, there is some data that you can and can’t store. However, before storing them, make sure that they are encrypted.

Here is a list of credit card data that you can store:

  • Name of the cardholder
  • The PAN (Primary Account Number)
  • Date of expiration
  • Service code. This is stored within the magnetic stripe of the card and is not visible on the card itself.

On the other hand, even if the data is encrypted, you still can’t get a hold of the following:

  • Sensitive authentication data
  • PIN
  • PIN block
  • CVV or CVC (the number code on the back of the card)

Tips For Storing Credit Card Details

Consumers are understandably anxious about how companies handle their data. And this is due to recent data breaches that exposed credit card information. Here are some of the best practices for handling client credit card information on a database.

1. Know Your Responsibilities in Securing Sensitive Information

Having an account to process card transactions means you’re responsible for securing credit card information. And you can check this out on the contract that you signed.

The fine print of the contract stipulates that your company must be PCI Compliant. Safeguarding account information is an important aspect of complying with PCI Standards. This includes how you secure customer information.

2. Understand When it is Necessary to Store Credit Card Information

There are a few situations in which you don’t need to store credit card information. For example, most of your clients are one-time or infrequent customers. In this case, you don’t need to keep it at all.

If you’re a SaaS company with recurring payments, then you can consider storing data. It also applies if you have consumers who buy from you regularly.

3. Make Sure You Adhere to the PCI Standards

Knowing what you’re up against when it comes to data theft is the best way to start. Make sure you’re aware of the dangers of receiving a PCI fine. This can cost you hundreds of thousands of dollars. Also, if your business operates in different locations, each one should also comply with PCI standards.

4. Implement a Standard System That is PCI Compliant

Having a program, policy, and procedures is a great system to follow. However, it’s important that your system is approved by the PCI security council.

The program you have should include:

  • Objectives that are well-thought-out
  • Individual roles and duties, and
  • An overall plan to attain those objectives

With this, you can create a good policy. This usually comprises a statement of intent or a set of regulations that should be followed. For example, the number of times passwords are changed, people with access privileges, and so on.

5. Prepare a Contract For Your Customers to Sign

If you’re going to store credit card information, make sure you have a signed contract in place. This will help reduce risks and ensure customer awareness of what you’re doing with their personal information.

6. Have Your Hardware and Software Updated

Make sure you regularly inspect your hardware and software before storing credit card information. Technology is rapidly advancing. Unfortunately, hackers are also keeping up with advanced data security. You can risk sensitive data if you don’t update your hardware and software regularly. This will leave your clients’ information unsecured.

7. Encrypt Credit Card Account Numbers

Credit card numbers can be stored in certain situations, such as recurring payment authorizations.

If such situations arise, make sure any electronic data is encrypted with a strong encryption algorithm. That way, if someone gains unauthorized access, the credit card data is protected.

8. Pick a Payment Processor That is PCI Compliant

Working with a reputable payment processor is the best way to protect your company’s data. It’s also a great way to ensure compliance with PCI standards. If they are PCI compliant, you’ll know that they are doing the best ways to increase data security.

Risks For Storing Credit Card Information on a Database

Information on Database

Meeting the PCI Standard is a must for businesses who wish to store credit card information. If not, then you’re exposing yourself to a number of problems. Here are some of the dangers of storing credit card information in your database.

1. Prone to Access Privilege Abuse

Storing credit card data in your database exposes this information to anyone with database access privileges. An independent developer you’re working with, for example, can use this to steal your data. 

While you can limit privileges, data can still be stolen. Users can link the database to a different application such as Excel. Furthermore, even if data is in read-only format, anyone can still take photos with their phone. They can, then, analyze the information later.

2. Vulnerable to Malware Attacks

A malware attack can happen to any database. It usually starts with an email containing a downloaded attachment sent to an employee. The attachment is where the malware originates. When the employee downloads the attachment, they’re also downloading the malware. And when it gets downloaded, it can infect the device they’re using.

If your computers are connected to a network, the malware will spread to other machines. This happens before it reaches your database, giving hackers a way inside it. It’s easy for such an attack to happen and allow hackers to steal credit card data.

3. Exposed to Exploitation of Misconfigured Databases

Misconfigured servers are common. Most businesses, particularly smaller ones, rarely update their servers regularly. On the other hand, there are still others who continue to use default database settings. 

If you don’t update your servers, hackers can easily penetrate its security system. Database patches are also neglected in big companies. When credit card information is kept in a database, it creates a vulnerability. And this allows hackers to gain access to the information.

4. SQL Injection Attacks Exposes Your Data

An SQL injection is a type of security breach in which a hacker injects malicious code into a database. This forces the database to behave in ways that make it more vulnerable. SQL injections happen because of vulnerabilities in apps that connect directly to the database.

If you store credit card information in your database, this kind of attack can expose data. And this results in a data breach. Hackers can easily attack databases of businesses that lack the skills to address such problems.

Conclusion

Handling sensitive data is challenging for most businesses, especially smaller ones. Knowing how you can store your customers’ credit card information is extremely helpful. Being PCI compliant is the best way of ensuring maximized data security.

Moreover, the tips above can help you prepare for when you start collecting credit card information. It is also important that you understand what risks you are up against when storing data on a database. Prioritizing data security helps your company build customer loyalty and save millions from a data breach.

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