Where is Your Credit Card Data Stored?

Posted in Cards Article By Aadeesh Kumar - Feb 7,2023
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Getting a credit card can help you with your day-to-day expenses in more ways than you can imagine, due to the immense benefits you can obtain with one. Nowadays, many sellers provide an option to store your credit card numbers onto your profile, for either a one-time password payment or a single-click method.  

With this, you may be wonder: Are my card details secure on such sites and apps? The answer to that is yes, since the government has implemented many measures to keep a check on online frauds. For instance, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) introduced tokenisation of debit and credit cards in 2019 which was fully implemented nationwide in October 2022.  

Tokenisation and a Safe Digital Payment Ecosystem 

With the increase in widespread use of credit cards online, security regarding the same has become more important now than ever, especially with rising reports of cybercrime. Tokenisation was introduced as a response to this problem by RBI, which allows for cards to be used online without the need for it to be stored entirely on external servers.  

The way this works is that card details are replaced with a unique ‘token’ code and serves as an added protection layer during all transactions. Tokenised card transactions are considered more secure than non-tokenised ones since merchants no longer hold access to customers’ actual card details. 

After having postponed the deadline for tokenisation’s final implementation, RBI finally fixed 1st October 2022 and successfully executed it on that date. According to RBI, each token is unique for a token requestor and device. Here, a token requester is an entity that accepts requests for tokenisation from customers. It then sends it across to the pertinent card network for the issuance of a correlating token.  

RBI stated that customers are not required to pay for such services as it is only applicable on permitted card networks. Regarding the functionality of tokenisation, the central bank said that in a tokenised card transaction, merchants, their acquirers, the card payment network, the issuer, customers and the token requestor are the stakeholders/parties involved. But entities other than these may be eligible to participate in the transaction.  

RBI further noted that a token requestor cannot store PAN numbers, and that card networks need to get mandated and certify the token requestor. This will help ensure that such entities conform to the global standards for security and safety. Similarly, users can tokenise any number of cards held with them and use any of those tokenised cards to make a transaction. They can additionally modify the quota for daily and transaction-specific exchanges, according to the RBI.  

Now that you have an idea about the security of your Credit/Debit cards, let’s learn where exactly your credit card data is stored. 

Companies and Card Data Storage 

Most online stores use an online cloud storage system that includes encryption to keep this data. There are certain universal regulations set in place that direct what information can be stored by a company and how it must be protected.  

For this, customers’ card details are required to be stored through a method that meets the criteria of the Payment Card Industry’s Data Security Standard or PCI DSS. A set of requirements have been placed to uphold the standards and they include the following:  

  1. Cardholder data can only be stored by companies if it is vital for their business operations. If a customer opts to have their card details stored on a company server, then the purpose here is for faster transactions.
  2. The information is not to be stored on unsecured devices like laptops, PCs, and mobile phones.
  3. iii. Stored card details are to appear truncated i.e., be shortened, rather than display the complete credentials. For instance, while checking a credit report, most companies typically display the card’s last four digits for added security.  
  4. Third parties can access the data, provided they have the appropriate security clearances and dedicated password protection policies for the same.
  5. Utilisation of cryptography and some other layered security tech to decrease the risk of data being read by unauthorised entities. This means that they cannot access an encrypted card without a corresponding encryption key. 

Additionally, companies are unable to store certain details like the magnetic strip data, CVV (the three-digit code behind the card) and the PIN. The only permitted details that can be stored are the customer’s name on the card, the main account number, and the card’s expiry date.  

Besides just the regulated ways of safeguarding your card, there are things that you can do yourself to add further security to your online dealings. These are:  

  • Security software for devices

Using reputed security software for your system is crucial in preventing any potential scam or fraud. This is because it will not only protect your device from any external attacks, but it will also ensure your data is not breached, thereby keeping your funds secure. Getting a cyber insurance could also add an additional layer of security. 

  • Opt out of storing card details online 

Despite different regulations and security software, it is still recommended to opt out of storing your details on any website. This will help you avoid any potential instances of fraud and also keep a check on your spending. 

  • Avoid using public Wi-Fi for payments 

Cybercriminals are always on the lookout for new victims and seek those who use public Wi-Fi as part of their data-stealing operations. They could potentially intercept data being transmitted through it and gain access to your card details. In order to ensure your safety, it is better to use a more secure network for all your sensitive transactions.  

  • Use your card only on trusted websites 

A common mistake is trusting the wrong site or app for making payments. It could lead to a significant loss of funds, as well as compromise your cards’ security, if chosen incorrectly. This can be avoided by referring to customer reviews of such sites to verify their authenticity and by learning about their compliance with safety standards for transactions.  

 

Rather than simply using your card to make purchases, knowing how its data storage mechanisms work and what you can do to ensure its security will help you a long way ahead. But most importantly, being careful while making any transactions is essential. If you don’t have a credit card yet, check out Bajaj Markets for an exciting range of credit cards for all your needs! 

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