What Is Key Injection, and How Does It Relate to Payment Security?

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A 2020 Federal Reserve study reported that consumers use non-cash payments for 74 percent of transactions, which will continue to grow due to the convenience, usability, and security of debit and credit cards. If you’re a merchant that accepts card payments, one of your top priorities is protecting your customers’ payment information. Let’s explore key injection and how it relates to card payment security. 

What Is Key Injection? 

Key injection refers to injecting encryption keys for a payment processor being used to handle electronic transactions at POS (point-of-sale) terminals. There are two types of key injections – manual and remote. The type of key injection a merchant needs depends on their specific use case and payment security needs. Only encryption support organizations (ESOs) are qualified to perform key injection for businesses. To achieve ESO status, a company must meet strict security guidelines regarding payment data, hardware, and networks.   

Manual Key Injection vs. Remote Key Injection 

Manual or direct key injection is injecting data encryption keys into physical POS hardware devices. These keys can be injected with or without debit PIN keys. Indeed, manual key injection can encrypt sensitive payment data immediately at the point of capture.  

As for remote key injection (RKI), this process works by remotely distributing encryption keys over a secure IP network. This security solution offers automatic, quick, and safe payment device injection at the point of sale. Thus, RKI is a more scalable, affordable, and efficient option than the traditional manual secure room version. RKI is a faster approach because it avoids spending time and money on purchasing, maintaining, and replacing physical devices.  

Key Benefits of Remote Key Injection


  • Avoid time and money spent on setting up and maintaining secure room and server equipment 
  • Save money on training staff and maintaining their security certifications 
  • Reduce costs spent on shipping and managing traditional key injection facility (KIF) 
  • Deploy key injection services from anywhere in the world 
  • Use RKI for a variety of use cases, from point to point encryption (P2PE) to POS 
  • Eliminate the issues associated with traditional key injection, such as server downtime and disruptions related to shipping payment devices to and from KIFs 
How Do Key Injections Help Payment Security? 

Remote key injection makes it easy to ship payment terminals from a manufacturer directly to a merchant without encryption keys. Once the merchant receives the terminals, the devices can be immediately connected to the merchant’s payment system, request a new unique encryption key, and receive the RKI service. Indeed, this solution makes it possible to remotely inject thousands of POS terminals at a business within minutes, which bypasses the painstakingly slow process and costs associated with KIF. After the devices are secured, any sensitive payment data will be secured via the encryption keys. Since payment fraud is an ongoing issue, it’s easy to see that RKI is an essential process for any organization’s payment security approach.  

Payment Tokenization to the Rescue! 

In addition to key injection services, organizations should consider implementing a layered security approach that includes additional measures to protect customers’ payment information. Payment tokenization is an effective solution that replaces sensitive payment data with randomly generated sets of numbers called tokens. These tokens can be used to tokenize credit card numbers, bank account numbers, names, addresses, etc. Tokens do not contain sensitive details that could be compromised due to a data breach or fraud. At TokenEx, our clients’ tokens can be stored and accessed in their internal systems while the original data is kept in a secure external environment. Contact our expert team today if you would like to learn more about key injection or payment tokenization. We would love to meet you and find out how we can help you protect your sensitive payment data, maintain critical business utility, optimize your payment flow, and, most importantly, give you peace of mind that your payment security is taken care of.