P2PE vs. E2EE: What Are the Differences and Similarities?

P2PE and E2EE are both standards for encrypting cardholder data. You can use either of these systems to ensure your customers’ cardholder data stays secure. But what makes these two different from one another?

P2PE and E2EE layouts both have different rules for how they process data. You can utilize the right system based on your business’ demands, but you should know what makes these distinct.

Understanding the Concepts

First, let’s look at the general concepts surrounding these two setups:

  1. Point-to-Point Encryption (P2PE)

Point-to-point encryption is a standard from the PCI Security Standards Council that entails protecting cardholder data, card terminals, and physical POS setups. It prevents harm caused by device tampering, data breaches, and other external threats.

A point-to-point link directly connects the terminal where someone uses the payment card with the system that processes the payment. It also processes transactions in less time, as the moves are run by an outside party. All data is then encrypted and will not be decoded until it reaches the endpoint.

A third party will review your data and transfer it through the network. That party will also encrypt all data the moment you collect it, ensuring everything stays safe from the start.

  1. End-to-End Encryption (E2EE)

End-to-end encryption or E2EE involves an indirect link between the payment card terminal and the processing network. The cardholder data is encrypted and secured by a single entity. The network that secures the data between these parts will not review your data, as the processing network is the only one that can decrypt the data.

The encryption during the E2EE process can be done by any party. An endpoint is all you require. You can have a single party on hand to handle the content if you wish.

The main difference between the two is that a P2PE connection entails a direct link to a network. An E2EE system may be managed by an outside party, although that group will ensure all data remains encrypted while in transit.

Security Standards

P2PE and E2EE systems will utilize different security rules. A P2PE system will require regular security checks based on P2PE Instruction Manual guidelines. You’ll need to provide annual inventory checks on your terminals and monthly site checks to review how well your terminals are working. Cameras must also be installed at your business site in places where the terminals are in clear view, ensuring you can monitor the terminals.

E2EE systems aren’t as thorough, as the service provider you hire for E2EE work will handle the data itself. The processor is in charge of all encryption and decryption keys. You must ensure whoever you hire for the process is capable of managing these keys well. An E2EE service provider may also supply you with specific terminals that meet standards, which might not always work for some businesses that have the right layout in place.

What Encryption Resources Work?

E2EE processes allow the merchant to determine what to encrypt. You could select specific things to be encrypted based on privacy standards. While all cardholder data must always be encrypted, you could avoid encrypting headers and other minor bits of data if you prefer. The system lets you shrink file sizes and shorten encryption times. You may use fewer resources with an E2EE setup thanks to these features.

A P2PE setup allows a third party to encrypt the data. That party will have more control over the work. But you are still responsible for the data you provide to the P2PE network. You will still need to use proper PCI standards to secure the content and prevent it from being lost or stolen.

Who Holds the Encryption Keys?

For a P2PE setup, the transaction processor is the only party that can handle encryption keys. An E2EE system is different, as the merchant can use the keys.

An outside assessor will monitor the keys on a P2PE system. The P2PE setup is reviewed to confirm it meets PCI standards. The design ensures transparency in handling data, ensuring no content is lost. An E2EE system will send the key data right to the acquirer instead.

Who Is Liable?

You will be liable for lost cardholder data if you use an E2EE system. Since you’re in control of how you encrypt data at the start, you may still unintentionally leak data over the E2EE network.

A P2PE system will review all security standards and will take control of the encryption process. While you must still ensure all data stays encrypted on your end, the P2PE network will continue to monitor the process and confirm your efforts still work as necessary.

Which Is Better?

You can choose between a P2PE or E2EE system based on whatever you feel is necessary for work. You can utilize a P2PE setup if you have a more massive business and you need further control over how you’re handling your terminals. The P2PE layout allows an outside party to help you transfer the data you collect, giving you more time to handle other things.

An E2EE layout is best for smaller businesses that need more equipment for work. It could also help if you’re trying to handle data in less time. You can also use an E2EE setup if you don’t want to utilize a centralized system for operating your data.

What Is the Cost?

The price for a P2PE or E2EE system will vary over your business needs. You can expect to spend more on a P2PE setup on average. You can contact a service provider to learn more about what you’ll get out of your system and what you can expect to spend on the work.

Be sure when choosing between a P2PE and E2EE setup that you know what you require. Look at how you manage your POS systems, and check on your current infrastructure. You can establish a suitable plan for work based on what you’re aiming to manage at any moment.

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