End-to-end encryption also referred to as E2EE, is a common process for securing communications that are being sent between two different people or companies to help protect the information from being accessed from an unauthorized third party while it's being transmitted.
Many of the messages you send and receive over the internet are sent using end-to-end encryption, including popular instant messaging apps and email platforms. When applications use end-to-end encryption, the messages are encrypted and not even the applications themselves are able to see the content of the messages, only the person sending the message and the intended recipient can view it. You can also use end-to-end encryption with hardware and terminals if you, or your business, is transmitting sensitive information.
While end-to-end encryption is used in the payment industry to secure online payment systems, the more secure method of transmitting transaction information in the payment industry is point-to-point encryption or P2PE. Point-to-point encryption is designed and regulated by the PCI Security Standards Council to maximize the security of sensitive information used in payment transactions.
When using point-to-point encryption, customer information is converted into a secure and indecipherable code whenever they swipe or insert their payment cards at a terminal. When a payment is processed using point-to-point encryption, the steps for the transaction are as follows:
- The customer swipes, taps, or inserts their credit or debit card at the merchant's terminal, or enters their payment information in an online payment page
- The merchant's terminal, point-of-sale, or payment page encrypts the payment card information
- The encrypted codes that represent the customer's card numbers are sent to the payment processors servers for decryption
- Once the payment processor receives the encrypted codes from the merchants, the processor decrypts the code and sends the customer's card numbers to their issuing bank to decline or approve the transaction
- Once the issuing bank receives the customer's information, they will either decline or approve the transactions
- The merchant is notified of the outcome of the transaction
It is beneficial for your business to select a payment processor who offers secure encryption of customer information with their payment processing. Processing encrypted transactions ensures you're handling cardholder data securely, helps reduce the risk of fraud, and can help transfer some liability associated with processing credit cards from your business to your payment processor.
At Helcim, we encrypt all of our merchant's sensitive data and cardholder data using the Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) and meet PCI compliance requirements for all of the sensitive information that we handle. The Advanced Encryption Standard, or AES, is the encryption standard for electronic data established by the US National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and uses 256-bit keys to encrypt sensitive information and protect it from hackers. Our security standards mean that merchants are able to move large portions of their data security and compliance requirements away from their business, especially if they utilize our Card Vault, Helcim.js, hosted payments pages, or developer API functionality for their payment processing needs.