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What comes to mind when you create a web form? Simply gathering data or creating a secure data collection process?

Your respondent’s trust and security should be your number one priority when creating an online form. You should always worry about their data protection, privacy policy, authentication, contact information, and so on.

You can protect your web forms through Captcha, IP blocking, password protection, and many more.

This post will discuss the best practices that can be applied to secure your web form and check whether your web form meets the industry security standards.

Types of Forms that Need to be Secure

There are two types of data you should encrypt: personally identifiable information and confidential business intellectual property.

When these two data sets are not secured, either because they were stored in a publicly accessible directory, or transported insecurely, all the information is at risk of being intercepted and tampered with.

Here are some types of forms that need to be secured:

1) Health Sector Forms

A 2016 report by IBM and the Ponemon Institute, found out that since the year 2010, the frequency of health forms and data breaches in the healthcare industry has been rising. Now, it is among the sectors most targeted by cyberattacks globally. 

The reason for this is not far-fetched, the information in the health database is of interest to criminals. They can access the health history of people from blood type, to diagnoses and even past surgeries.

Also, medical files contain private information such as name, date of birth, insurance and health provider, and genetic information, there might not be a reversal to the psychosocial harm these files being compromised can cause. 

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As the compromise can be a major threat to the identity of the patient and their finances, it can also impede the operations of the hospital. For example, in May 2017, the United Kingdom’s National Health System hospitals suffered an attack from the WannaCry ransomware.

This forced the hospital to reroute ambulances and delay treatment plans. Not only that, the reputation of the hospital was at stake. Therefore, importance should be placed on securing the forms and applications used in the health sector to guarantee privacy and safety for the patients.

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2) Education Forms

In the educational sector, the information of the students is mostly entered by the educators or the students. There is an obligation and responsibility on the part of the service providers and educators to make sure that the information is protected.

Why? Because without being logged in into an account, an intruder can develop a URL with a numeric user ID and retrieve the profile information of the original user. Also, a valid class code could be generated and used by the intruder to access a user’s profile and class activities.

Guess what, the actual user would not be alerted of the intruder’s access to his/her file. 

Cyber attackers can also perform an “eavesdropping attack” or “sniffing attack” whereby they observe the network messages that are generated from the user’s computer and extract sensitive information from it. 

Also if you send authentication tokens without encryption after a user logs in, the intruder can take control of the user’s account. This is known as “session hijacking”.

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For example, according to a report by BuzzFeed in February 2015, Washington DC’s school district left their internal web pages that contain information about their special education students public since 2010. This left the information accessible on web search.

When using your browser, check for “HTTPS” in your browser’s URL. That will indicate that Transport Layer Security (TLS or SSL) is actively in use. If the URL in your browser shows “HTTP”, it means that TLS is not in use.

3) Financial Forms

In 2015, internet financial crime was on the news because the Carbanak criminal organization attacked the financial sector. Over 100 banks across 30 countries were attacked and up to $1 billion has been stolen by the group since the year 2013.

In 2014, in China, over 165 P2P internet financial platforms were attacked by hackers. 

According to a recent survey, about 90% of financial institutions/companies are susceptible to data security threats. This is because data is huge money. Most hackers sell information on the online black market hence the financial enterprises have become a targeted place for hackers.

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Data Threat report by Vormetric Financial Industry shows that 70% of organizations and enterprises plan to increase their financial input into data security.

It is clear that high-risk industries such as healthcare, finance, and the educational sector are putting web and data security at the core of their business because data breaches not only expose the customer, it puts the reputation of the company on the line. 

For You: Accept Online Payments with PCI compliant forms

How Forms are Shared and Transferred 

There are many ways forms can be shared. Such as through emails, text messages (SMS), social media, and website links. We are going to discuss these four methods.

Emails: If you have an existing mailing list, you can add new email addresses to it and roll out your forms. All the people on your email list will receive your form. You can also add instructions on what they should do in the body of the email.

Social media: Share your forms through social media platforms. You can even run ads so that you can customize your forms settings. This will allow you to choose the age, sex, and even location of those you would like to be shown your form.

Sms: You can transfer or share your forms using text messages. This can be done by sending out bulk SMS detailing the information in your forms or a link that can redirect your contacts to your forms.

Website links: If your website or blog generates enough traffic, input the link to your form on your website. You can input the link in a video or as a pop-up feature. 

When you create a form with Formplus, you have access to a vast pool of sharing options which includes all of the above, a QR code, and a form embed.

Importance of Form Security

  1. Protect privacy: Form security protects the privacy of your customers by hiding their form submission and sensitive information from intruders. 
  2. Reduce the risks of hacking: The strict regulation from EU GDPR and New York Cybersecurity has made data and form security a priority for companies because failure to comply with the regulations attracts penalties.
  3. Protect identity: Many times, people want to interact with your form anonymously and still have their data protected. Having a secured web form will guarantee that. This is why you should invest in your web form security.
  4. Create trust from respondents: It is important that web forms are secured not only because of the legal implications but also the reputation of the company. People expect their data to be safe and secure and anything short of that will weaken their trust in your organization and that can have a huge negative impact on the business.

For You: Receive Online Orders with Secure Payment Forms

Secure Forms vs Encrypted Forms What are the Differences 

Your form is secured when you use URLs that start with HTTPS protocol. For instance, when your forms start like this https://

This means that a secured connection has been created by SSL between a client and a server, and any data sent over it is secure. 

Encrypted Form on the other hand means that javascript has performed encryption on the form before transmitting it to the server. This is a good way of securing your form because no one can decrypt your data except they have your private key. 

Laws and Regulations Governing Form Security and the Role of Privacy Policies

General data protection and privacy laws have been adopted by many countries and the laws are applicable to both government or private-sector whose activities involve the processing of personal data. Some of these laws are:

1. Purpose limitation: Personal data collection and use should be limited to purposes that are

  • stated in law and thus can be known (at least in theory) to the individual at the time of the data collection; or
  • for which the individual has given consent.

Proportionality and minimization. The collected data must be in proportion to the purpose of the ID system so that unnecessary data collection can be avoided and privacy risks can be avoided. This means that minimum necessary data and transaction metadata should be required.

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2. Lawfulness: Personal data collection and usage should be done lawfully e.g., consent must be given, it must comply with legal obligations, vital interests must be protected, same as public interest. 

3. Fairness and transparency: There must be fairness and transparency in the collection and usage of personal data.

4. Accuracy: All inaccuracies must be corrected because personal data should be accurate and up-to-date.

5. Storage limitations: All personal data and transaction metadata must not be kept longer than is required for the purposes for which it is collected and processed. Also, people can be provided an option on how long such data or forms should be retained.

Features and Requirements for Form Security

  • Ensure your forms are encrypted to ensure that they are secured.
  • It is also important that your forms are backed up. You can use the cloud for your backup
  • Have anti-malware protection.
  • Make sure your wireless network is secured. Both at your home or at work.

Form Security Features of Formplus

Some security features that Formplus offers are;

SSL, GDPR, Form privacy, form tracking, subdomain customization options, PCI Certification

When you use Formplus to build your forms, you can be assured that your forms are secured and safe.

The Formplus website is secured with Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) protocol which is the industry standard. And it is used on all Formplus forms. SSL is used to establish an encrypted link between a web server and a browser.

Formplus is PCI compliant and adheres to PCI DSS regulations. Formplus also backs up data to Google Drive and cloud and only authorized people have access to it.

How to Create Secure Email Forms with Formplus

To create a secure email form, log in to your Formplus account

On your dashboard, click on ‘create a new form’

Once you are redirected to the Form builder look at the options panel by the left and select email.

You can go ahead to edit and customize your form however you want.

You can also use any of your preferred sharing options to distribute your forms from the share section on the navigation panel

Conclusion

Web forms privacy and security should be considered as high priority by all enterprises and companies. So ensure that your forms are secured according to the standard regulations.



  • Formplus Blog
  • on 9 min read

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