P2PE vs. E2EE: What’s the Best Payment Security Option?

If end-to-end encryption and point-to-point encryption sound like they could be the same thing, you’re not wrong. In both cases, the objective is to secure cardholder data from the time it’s captured until it reaches its intended destination.

However, only one of these methods offers significant time savings and cost benefits to merchants. Read on to understand the differences and why choosing one method could really pay off.

What is E2EE? A Refresher

As the ongoing threat of data breaches continues to menace businesses (and government agencies) of all sizes, securing cardholder data remains a top priority for merchants. Many merchants’ transactions rely on end-to-end encryption (E2EE), a process which involves an indirect link between the payment terminal and processing network. During this operation, the processor or a third party is expected to encrypt the cardholder’s data (CHD) during transit.

While this method is compliant with Payment Card Industry (PCI) guidance, E2EE requires intensive documentation and additional ongoing costs associated with PCI compliance. Merchants often hold the encryption keys, so merchants relying on E2EE will typically need to complete an annual PCI-DSS self-assessment questionnaire (SAQ) with over 300 questions.

Even though small business owners are used to wearing many hats, assuming responsibility for PCI compliance may be more than they can handle. If they choose to have someone else manage it for them, like processors or outside consultants, then they’ll also incur the added expense for outside help.

And unfortunately, card present transactions—where the customer swipes, dips or taps their card—will remain a constant area for concern. Preventing fraud at the terminal isn’t just a matter of checking who is presenting the card; it’s also making sure the payment terminals are secure. By intercepting point of sale devices, or using insiders, malware loaded to a device can scrape and transfer cardholder data available in its RAM and virtual memory.

That’s why rather than finding new ways to protect cardholder data, businesses are looking for ways to eliminate cardholder data from their environments.

What is P2PE? A Better Way to Secure Payments

In recent years, point-to-point encryption (P2PE) has become the gold standard for payment security compliance. The reason being: PCI-validated P2PE is set of standards defined by Payment Card Industry Security Standards Council (PCI-SSC) and outlines a comprehensive set best practices spanning the device supply chain, encryption key loading, configuration, encryption and application security.

The trailblazing P2PE process creates a secure connection between devices, or components within devices, which prevents possible sensitive data from being exposed at any point while moving across a network. It effectively removes card holder data from a merchant’s environment.

P2PE reduces the likelihood of PCI compliance breaches—and correspondingly drops the number of self-assessment questionnaire questions from over 300 to around 30. This means you can raise the bar on security but dramatically lower the compliance audit burden.

That leaves you more time and resources to spend on the purpose and passion at the forefront of your business, rather than the processes behind your business.

Why P2PE is considered the “gold standard,” and how do I get it?

The numerous controls and security implemented across this entire value chain make P2PE an extremely secure encryption method—but also a high bar for vendors to clear. Only a select few vendors offer PCI-validated P2PE today.

At CSG Forte, we know securing a stable and safe merchant solution can relieve the security and compliance pressures from you and your business. For that reason, CSG Forte Protect was created with you in mind, to give you peace of mind.

CSG Forte Protect is a PCI-validated P2PE solution securing the V400C terminal for in-person payments. CSG Forte Protect helps merchants:

  • Remove liability issues for your business—Forte Protect merges processes, applications, and payment devices to securely encrypt and protect data during transit from the POI terminal/device or POS system
  • Protect cardholder data—Our solution has three parts: validated hardware, validated software, and validated solution providers to cover payment terminals, terminal application, deployment, key management, and decryption environments.
  • Save time and money—With a minimal per transaction cost, Forte Protect saves you PCI-related costs by reducing PCI scope as the number of questions from the self-assessment questionnaire drops from SAQ D (329 questions) to SAQ P2P3 (33 questions).
  • Fully integrate existing payment channels—Supported card input methods include: tap, dip, swipe, keyed, Apple Pay, Samsung Pay and Google Pay. Your customer payment experience will be seamless without you lifting a finger!

We know you didn’t open your business so you could worry about transactions and payments operations. But we did. CSG Forte has a passion for safe and secure payment processing solutions. Learn more about CSG Forte’s secure in-person payments processing solutions or contact us to get started.