PCI Compliance - Everything you need to know

What is PCI Compliance?

The Payment Card Industry PCI represents debit, credit, prepaid, e-purse, (a plastic card with an amount of money stored electronically on it),  and POS cards. To ensure that there is a high level of security when transactions are processed with a payment card, the major credit card issuers created compliance standards to protect personal information.

PCI DSS refers to the payment card industry data security standards, a set of 12 requirements that all businesses must comply with if they are dealing with credit/debit card payments. To be PCI compliant is to meet the standard security level.

Who needs PCI DSS Compliance?

With consumers becoming more and more aware of identity theft and the dangers it brings, it has never been more important to be PCI compliant.

If you are a member of the PCI, whether you're a credit card company, merchant or financial institution you need to comply with these standards if you plan to accept card payments. Failure in meeting compliance standards can result in fines from credit card companies & banks or even the loss of your ability to process card payments.

It doesn't matter what size the merchants may be, or the number of transactions they make, if you accept, store, transmit or process any cardholder data, it is of the utmost importance to comply with the PCI DSS.

Who are the PCI Security Standards Council?

The PCI Security Standards Council was formed in 2006 to set standards for credit card companies and merchants who process, store or transmit credit cards. It is responsible for the development, management and promotion of the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS)

What Security Controls Need to be in Place for PCI DSS Compliance?

All members must comply with all security requirements that are outlined in the standard in order to be PCI compliant. These include the following:

  • Developing secure network architecture
  • Maintaining a vulnerability management program
  • Implement strong access control measures
  • Regularly monitoring and testing networks
  • Maintaining an information security policy

By meeting these requirements, businesses will not only protect their customers’ personal information, but they will also protect the business from potential fraud and data breaches.

How to Become PCI DSS Compliant?

The first step in achieving PCI compliance is to become familiar with the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS). This is a set of comprehensive requirements designed to ensure that all companies that accept, process, store or transmit cardholder data maintain a secure environment.

Once you have an understanding of the requirements, there are several steps that need to be taken in order to become fully compliant

1. Self-assessment questionnaire: A detailed self-assessment questionnaire must be completed which includes providing details about your business’s payment card processing and the systems used for this purpose.

2. Penetration tests: Companies need to conduct periodic penetration testing and vulnerability scanning which helps identify any vulnerabilities in the system before they can be exploited by hackers.

3. Employee training: Employees must be trained on best practices for handling and protecting cardholder data and understanding how to respond in the event of a security breach or other violation of the PCI DSS.

4. Auditing: Companies must be audited thoroughly by an approved third-party organization. This helps ensure that a company is compliant with all of the applicable regulations and standards set forth in the PCI DSS.

By following these steps and adhering to the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard, companies can ensure that their customers’ data is safe and secure. Becoming compliant is a complex process, but it is essential for any business that uses payment cards to remain competitive in today’s marketplace

How PCI DSS Compliance Can Help You?

Although it is not a legal requirement there are many reasons to be PCI compliant, which can bring many benefits to your business. Including the following;

1. Increased customer confidence: Customers trust businesses that have secure systems and are PCI compliant, and this helps to build loyalty and repeat customers

2. Reduced exposure to card fraud: PCI compliance helps protect your business from fraudulent activity and reduce the chances of a data breach

3. Improved security: The PCI DSS are designed to strengthen your data security, by protecting customer data from hackers and malicious software

4. Increased compliance with other standards: If you are compliant with the PCI DSS, you will also be meeting the requirements of a number of other security standards such as ISO/IEC 27001 and HIPAA.

5. Gives a good working framework for security: The PCI DSS requirements provides a good framework for security and the assurance that your systems are secure.

What is the Risk To You If You Don't Protect Cardholder Data?

  • If you don't comply with PCI DSS you could run into some of the following problems;
  • Liabilities such as the cost of any fraud on compromised credit cards
  • Breached security possibly leading to an investigation and legal costs (which can be very pricey)
  • Business Disruption due to not being able to accept card payments
  • Reputational damage due to your customers’ data not being secure

If you would like to know more about how to be PCI compliant please contact us today for a friendly chat.

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