Are you searching for a form builder to aid in upping the user-friendliness, conversion rate, and productivity of your website? As you are considering all of your options, remember the adage your parents taught you—safety first!
This basic tenet about personal safety also translates well to the world of online forms.
As a business person, you will be implementing your forms as a much-utilized way of collecting data from your clientele.
Providing your customers with secure online forms is the responsible way to do business—and proves to your clients that you take data security seriously!
You may be aware that you need to provide a secure online environment and have purchased an SSL certificate (at least I hope you have!). That is a fantastic start, but it’s not enough any longer.
Data breaches have become widespread, with even some of the best-known companies in the world falling victim to these malicious attacks. Recently, even Microsoft Outlook email fell victim to such security leaks.
As webmasters have started to implement more stringent security standards, hackers have ramped up their efforts. It’s an endless game of cat-and-mouse.
In fact, the only way to win that challenge is to lock down your forms to thwart their best efforts in penetrating your forms in their attempt to collect data illegally.
Let’s take a look at some primary steps you can take to create secure online forms and feel confident in your website’s ability to protect your customers.
Obtain an SSL Certificate (if you haven’t already)
One of the first measures you should take to add security to your website, in general, is to add SSL security.
If you’ve heard of SSL, but you’re unsure what it means, precisely, here it is.
SSL stands for Secure Sockets Layer. An SSL is a security measure that sends encrypted data between the web server and the browser.
Users are well-schooled to look for reassurance that any website they use has an SSL certificate. They look for two main things:
- The lock icon near the URL
- The https:// protocol
Also, note that Google users are now warned by Google when they are heading to a website that does not have SSL security in place. Those visitors must take an extra step to skip that security warning and “proceed to an unsafe site.”
Make Multi-factor Authentication a Best Practice
You know that you need a strong password.
Today, a strong password alone is not enough for your website or your form builder. Enter multi-factor authentication.
This is a multi-layered means of confirming your identity when online. The most widely used example of this is a password + a PIN generated via an automated phone call or text message. Even Google now allows users to set up MFA protection from their smartphones.
In a recent blog post about the importance of MFA security, my EmailMeForm colleague shared the visual from a Hollywood movie scene where the President has one key to launch nukes, and another official has a secondary key. You know how the scene plays out—both keys must be turned to unlock the arming sequence.
Once upon a time, multi-factor authentication was once reserved for banks, medical practices, social media platforms, and other big-budget businesses. However, you now have the option of securing your credit card form data in the EmailMeForm Vault which includes MFA security.
That level of security is of particular importance if you are accepting credit cards online or collecting data of any kind.
Partner with a GDPR-compliant Form Company
Ok, this is a not so subtle hint: EmailMeForm is a GDPR-compliant form company.
What does GDPR-compliant mean?
GDPR refers to the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation, a set of specific data privacy laws that went into effect last May. Even if you are not located inside the EU, you are required to uphold these standards if you collect data from any EU citizens.
These laws aim to protect what data is collected from EU citizens and how it is used. Non-compliance can lead to enormous fines should any issue arise.
Fortunately, EmailMeForm has done some of the heavy lifting and made their form builder GDPR-compliant for you. Not only are you building a secure online form when you select our service, but you are also creating a GDPR-compliant form.
While there are other things GDPR requires of you, that’s part of the work that you can cross off of your checklist.
Choose a PCI-certified Form Provider
Choose a company that is PCI-certified instead of one that’s merely PCI-compliant or, worse yet, one that holds neither distinction!
PCI-certification indicates that the form provider has gone to tremendous lengths and passed an independent audit that proves that they are employing the most meticulous data security measures in their form builders and while storing data.
While the terms PCI-certified and PCI-compliant are similar, there is one primary distinction.
PCI-compliance indicates that the form company completed a checklist of tasks and submitted a self-audit to the payment card industry powers-that-be stating that they are compliant.
On the other hand, PCI-certified takes that audit one step further and has an independent, third-party auditor assess them and certify that their forms are meet or exceed all security standards.
When you use a form builder to create forms for accepting credit card payments and collecting data like email, phone, and address information, you become a weak point for a hacker to penetrate. Unless, of course, you partner with a PCI-certified online form company.
Form Builder Best Practices
Whatever form builder service you select, you should establish best practices that enhance data security so you can keep your customers both safe and happy.
Please note that these form builder best practices are supplemental in nature. Therefore, you should not rely upon these measures as a sole means of website security.
Here are five security-enhancing form features you’ll find available when you partner with EmailMeForm.
#1 - Eliminate spam submissions with a CAPTCHA
EmailMeForm allows you to disarm bots by inserting a Captcha from the “Form Settings” tab of our form builder.
You can choose from:
reCAPTCHA V2: This is the “I am not a robot” statement that a user checks and submits. Invisible reCAPTCHA V2: This version lets known users (logged in securely to your site) to pass without a completing the challenge but stops unknown users and asks them to check the “I am not a robot” box. Image Verification CAPTCHA: This CAPTCHA forces the user to manually verify an image to pass through to your content.
Make this selection here:
#2 - Stop contest fraud by limiting form entries
Second, you can prevent users from making multiple spam submissions by permitting only one entry to your form from each IP address. This is useful when you have a lead generation contest and want to limit the number of giveaways. This step will serve as a block to multiple or fraudulent entries.
Here is where you will find this option in the form builder:
#3 - Masked emails
The “mask email” option supplements your data protection by obscuring the user’s email address with asterisks (**) as he or she inputs that information. Then, the email data will also appear as asterisks in your notification email. This measure stops hackers who breach email accounts from collecting this data.
You, however, will be able to retrieve the correct email address from the Data Manager.
To do this, you head to your form builder and go to the field settings tab. Choose the email field, check the “mask email” box.
#4 - Delete data you are no longer using
When you no longer need data, delete it. This is one way that you can be confident that criminals with nefarious intents cannot steal customer data.
Head to the EmailMeForm Data Manager by clicking on the “Data” icon from your form builder dashboard.
Select the records you no longer use, click delete, and then confirm that you wish to delete those records.
Make it a best practice to review these entries regularly to perform this maintenance task.
#5 - Lock data in the EmailMeForm Vault
Accepting credit card payments via online forms puts you in a position of incredible responsibility. Not only do you hold your customers’ sensitive contact data in the palm of your virtual hands, but you also carry the weight of securing their financial data.
Some business owners are startled to learn that once a credit card transaction completes, the data transmitted doesn’t magically dissipate. It’s there in the background, prime pickings for a thief.
If you are using our form builder to create your credit card authorization forms and payment forms, you will be storing that key data in the EmailMeForm Vault.
Vault storage makes your credit card payments PCI-compliant and
shows your customer that you care about their safety.
The EmailMeForm Form Builder: Don’t settle for less!
Your commitment to researching form builder safety shows that you are a business owner concerned about data security and improving user experience on your website. We commend you on that!
All that’s left to do now is move forward and be sure that you are selecting a safe and secure form builder as you turn your website into a productive, revenue-producing machine.