How to protect your business with end-to-end data security


August 05, 2019

Codes established between sender and recipients have helped protect the privacy of data in transit for thousands of years. Cipher systems were developed to protect paper communications in the time of Julius Caesar. The wars of the twentieth century elevated secure communications to an art form, such as the Choctaw Code Talkers in WWI or the team from Bletchley Park that broke the Enigma code in WWII.

Data security has come a long way since the days of Julius Caesar. But the fundamental problem hasn’t really changed: data is especially vulnerable when in transit between secure systems. That’s especially true today as criminals seek to intercept sensitive payment card information as it’s communicated across networks during a payment transaction.

Encryption remains a vital tool to protect businesses today with end-to-end data security. This express primer explains in simple, non-technical language how end-to-end encryption is helping to protect businesses like yours from the potentially devastating impacts of a data breach.

What is end-to-end encryption?

First it’s important to have a basic understanding of what encryption is and how it works in the context of payment card data.

Encryption is simply the process of converting data like plain text into a code that can’t be read without the keys to that code. Encryption relies on complex mathematical algorithms to generate what is called “cipher text” that can requires the corresponding key in order to decrypt the code and view the original data.

The end-to-end (or “point-to-point”) component is vital to the success of encryption technologies in securing data. In the context of payment transactions, that means the private account number (PAN) and other sensitive data is encrypted through every point throughout the process of a transaction.

Payment transactions may seem simple, and that’s actually great news for businesses and customers alike. Behind the scenes, that seamless customer payment experience is made possible in part by all the parties to a transactions communicating vital information across networks.

Processing payment transactions requires virtually instantaneous communication between businesses, financial institutions, card brand networks and payment processors. Payment transaction data often travels around the world across multiple independent networks. Despite the continued and determined efforts of everyone in the payment industry, network communications have proved vulnerable to penetration by hackers.

End-to-end encryption is designed to ensure that raw payment transaction data is protected throughout the entire transaction cycle. 

End-to-end data security and compliance

All businesses that accept credit and debit cards need to be in compliance with standards established by the Payment Card Institute’s Security Standards Council. Using encryption as part of an end-to-end data security solution helps satisfy a key element of the PCI’s Data Security Standards (PCI-DSS).

Hackers are particularly skilled at identifying and exploiting security vulnerabilities of data in-motion between systems. PCI-DSS requirement #4 stipulates that businesses that accept credit and debit cards must encrypt cardholder data in transit. Requirement #4 seeks to reduce those vulnerabilities through strong encryption policies for sensitive data as it’s processed.

Is an end-to-end data security solution right for my business?

End-to-end encryption is a necessary component of an effective data security plan for your business. That said, encryption alone isn’t sufficient to protect your business from the threats posed by sophisticated hackers.

Protecting your business against today’s threats requires a layered approach to security. Those layers might include tokenization to help protect data at rest, or EMV  “chip card” technology that’s been proven effective in reducing counterfeit fraud for in-person transactions. Fraud protection, EMV transaction support and data breach assistance in the event of an incident are additional layers that today’s threats demand.

Ultimately, securing your business means creating a new mindset. Losses related to fraud aren’t spread across all businesses equally—they fall disproportionately on the least prepared.  Your job is to make sure your business isn’t the weakest security link.

Making encryption work for your business

Using an end-to-end encryption solution to strengthen your data security doesn’t require expensive equipment, training or new technical staff.  End-to-end data security technologies such as encryption and tokenization are offered by leading payment processors, like Worldpay.

Worldpay is a global payments leader with pioneering expertise in using end-to-end encryption and tokenization to protect payments everywhere they take place.