The payments industry is constantly evolving, with new payment methods and technologies being introduced at a rapid pace. While this makes online payments and digital banking more convenient, it also creates potential vulnerabilities that cybercriminals can take advantage of.
In fact, according to a recent report, 74% of banks experienced a rise in cybercrime since the pandemic started. That's why payment processors, banks, and other payments industry players must know how to improve their cyber defenses. If you’re in the payments industry and would like to know how to boost your cybersecurity, here are six tips that will help you get started:
1. Keep your software up to date
Outdated software is one of the most common ways cybercriminals can infiltrate systems.
Let’s say your PCs are running Windows 7, an operating system (OS) that no longer receives security patches. If you continue to use the OS, cybercriminals can easily exploit unpatched vulnerabilities to hijack your devices and steal payment information, along with other sensitive data.
What’s more, using outdated software makes it difficult for organizations to comply with certain compliance standards. For instance, PCI DSS Requirement 6 states that systems must have appropriate security patches to safeguard against cardholder data misuse.
That’s why you need to ensure that all of your software, such as operating systems, applications, and browser extensions, are always up to date. If possible, set up automatic updates to ensure that your systems are always using the latest version.
2. Educate your employees
According to Verizon’s 2022 Data Breaches Investigations Report, human error is the leading cause of data breaches today. This is why your employees must undergo cybersecurity awareness training. The training should cover topics like:
- The importance of setting strong passwords and enabling multi-factor authentication
- The methods for identifying phishing emails and suspicious websites
- The proper way to handle confidential information
- The consequences of data breaches
- Acceptable use policies for company-provided and personal devices
You can also conduct live phishing or malware attack simulations to test your employees’ knowledge and hone their skills. Make sure to conduct training programs at least twice a year to ensure that your employees are up to date with the latest cybersecurity threats.
3. Develop an incident response plan
No matter how strong your cybersecurity defenses are, your business can still be targeted by cybercriminals. It’s therefore essential to have an incident response plan in place.
Your incident response plan should detail the steps you need to take in the event of a security breach, such as:
- Notifying the relevant parties, such as your employees, customers, and law enforcement
- Restoring affected systems and data
- Updating your security defenses
- Conducting a post-mortem analysis to determine the root cause of the incident and how to prevent similar incidents from happening in the future
Test your incident response plan regularly so you know what to do in the event of a security breach. Make sure as well to regularly review and update your plan to ensure its effectiveness.
4. Perform regular security audits
Conducting regular security audits helps you identify vulnerabilities in your systems and payment processes and determine if your security controls are effective in mitigating risks.
PCI DSS Requirement 11 mandates covered entities to perform quarterly network scans and annual penetration tests. Meanwhile, SOC 2 Type 2 requires organizations that store client data on the cloud to have their security controls audited by an independent third-party assessor annually.
Have a reputable security firm perform these audits to ensure that they are accurate.
5. Use a secure payment gateway
When customers make online payments, their confidential information like credit card numbers and billing addresses go through a series of systems before reaching the merchant. Along the way, cybercriminals can intercept this information.
A secure payment gateway can mitigate this risk by encrypting cardholder data as it’s being transmitted. It also uses tokenization, which replaces sensitive data with a randomized string of numbers. Secure payment gateways even come with built-in fraud detection and prevention features to help you keep deceptive transactions at bay.
Charles IT is a reputable managed IT services provider that helps businesses in the payments industry bolster their cyber defenses. We offer the following cybersecurity services:
- Security awareness training
- Endpoint encryption
- Security information and event management
- External vulnerability assessment
- Dark web monitoring
- Managed detection and response
We also offer proactive and unlimited IT support, so you can rest assured that your business is in good hands. Talk to our experts today!