Every time I start to put my information into an online form, especially if it’s my credit card number or a banking transaction, I almost always pause. There was a time when I entered customer data without a second thought. Now, with the constant news of breaches and attacks, even those not in the cybersecurity field are now more aware of the risks. As a business, this pause may be the difference between a customer turning away and making a purchase. So how do you ensure both transaction security and a smooth visit?

Balancing Transaction Security With Usability

Before I share my customer information or financial data I ask myself if I trust this website and this company with it. I first ask myself several questions. Have there been recent media reports of breaches at the business? Is the company known and trusted? Then the business must jump one more hurdle — does the website ‘feel’ secure?

However, there is a catch. Even if the website is super secure, it may be cumbersome with transaction security or the process disjointed. I’ll close the browser and find another company to do business with. Yes, my standards are likely a bit different from those of the typical consumer because I’m a UX and cybersecurity journalist, but a recent McKinsey report showed I’m not alone. Customers expect brands to create both an engaging and secure customer experience. By building in highly visible security protocols and features, companies can ease cybersecurity anxiety and build customer loyalty. But there’s a (very) fine balance between a customer experience that’s secure and one that’s seamless.

Multifactor Authentication

Here are three keys to balance transaction security with usability:

First, offer options for multifactor authentication (MFA). The good news is that MFA efforts are working. X-Force recently reported that the significant decrease in both business email compromise (BEC) attacks and attackers’ use of credential theft in 2020 points to the increase in successful use of MFA. Customers typically expect some form of MFA. Their acceptance of this type of transaction security will likely only increase as Google rolls out its automatic enrollment of all users in MFA in the coming months.

However, MFA is not all created equal. I know I much prefer MFA using text messages since I often shop from my phone. My mother-in-law, who only makes purchases from her desktop, gets irritated when companies use anything other than email. Many companies are starting to offer customers a choice of MFA method, including biometric options. Customers then feel confident in the companies’ transaction security and control of the process. Companies should put the MFA process and other transaction security during checkout instead of before the purchase. That way, you’ll reduce the number of customers who leave without buying,

Fully Homomorphic Encryption

Next, consider using fully homomorphic encryption (FHE). Informing customers that you use data encryption may provide them some peace of mind. However, consumers are increasingly realizing that when using traditional encryption, the data must be unencrypted to perform calculations. By using FHE for secure transactions, organizations can use the data while it’s still encrypted, which makes it both usable and secure.

Some challenges with using FHE for transaction security still exist. It can have infrastructure problems, a lack of computing power and be too technically complex for its own good. Despite this, many organizations are moving forward with this more secure encryption method. By using a managed service provider that uses expert cryptography, businesses can do two things at once. They’ll improve customer confidence and data security while not taking time away from customer service.

Consent Management for Transaction Security

Lastly, use consent management for smoother transaction security. Customers want to feel in control — and actually be in control — of their data. When companies use a consumer identity and access management (CIAM) program, customers can make decisions about their own data, which improves their overall experience. For example, make sure that customers can opt in or out of your using their data. They should also be able to manage their consent at any time through a profile. You should also provide an audit of all consent changes customers make.

By consciously looking at all choices from both the security design and the customer experience points of view, you are more likely to strike the fine balance. The more informed and in control customers remain about both security and the process behind it, the more likely they are to walk away from the experience satisfied.

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