The PCI Standard, also known as the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS), was established by the Payment Card Industry Security Standards Council (PCI SSC) to increase security and reduce credit card fraud. These standards apply to any company that accepts payment in the form of credit cards. You should note that the PCI Security Standards Council is an open forum consisting of five credit card companies:
- American Express
- Discover Financial Services
- JCB International
- MasterCard Worldwide
- Visa Inc.
PCI SSC does not enforce compliance with these standards. That is up to the acquiring banks or payment brands to do.
Why is PCI Compliance So Important for Your Business?
The bottom line is that it is all about trust. In the day and age of a nearly continuous cycle of high-profile data breaches, customers want to feel like you are a business they can trust with their private financial information. By staying up to date and compliant with the PCI standards, you’re becoming part of the solution for the huge problem data breaches have become.
Additionally, you could find yourself facing public relations as well as financial repercussions in the form of lost business and financial liabilities related to the fallout of a data breach. Compliance will greatly reduce your risks and exposure as a business – and that is good for everyone involved.
The PCI Security Standards Council reports that the fallout from a data breach goes much further than the loss of data. You could find your business responsible for and facing the following fallout should a data breach occur:
- Reduction in sales.
- Losses related to fraud.
- Higher compliance costs from your credit card processor.
- Legal fees.
- Expenses related to judgements against your business or financial settlements.
- Cost for reissuing payment cards.
- Lost jobs – at all levels within your company.
- Loss of business – most businesses are simply unable to fully recover after a data breach occurs and ultimately go out of business.
Act now, to ensure your business is PCI compliant if you ever intend to accept credit cards from your customers. Then you can reap the rewards of PCI compliance that include higher confidence from consumers, an enhanced reputation with banks and credit card companies, and an outward display of your commitment to enhancing the shopping experience for your customers.
How do You Become PCI Compliant?
There are essentially 12 requirements designed to accomplish six specific goals that must be met for your business to become PCI compliant. Some businesses may view it as a bit of a checklist to follow.
Goal One: Create and Maintain a Secure Network
This process involves two essential steps. Installing and maintaining a firewall configuration designed to protect cardholder data and developing passwords and security parameters that are not what the vendor supplies as defaults.
Goal Two: Protect Individual Cardholder Information
The privacy and security of individual cardholders is sacrosanct and you must take every possible action to prevent that information from falling into the wrong hands. This means you must not only protect stored cardholder information, but also protect transmissions of this information over public or open networks.
Goal Three: Establish and Maintain Protocols to Manage Vulnerability
This means you need to take preventative action to protect your system and private customer information. Being proactive is the only way to go by installing and using antivirus software plus keeping it regularly updated. The second part of this process involved developing and maintaining secure systems and applications for your computers.
Goal Four: Limit Access to Information Via Strict Access Control Measures
Make sure that only people who need to know specific cardholder information have access to that information. This will greatly reduce your risks of security breaches because fewer people have access to private information. Consider assigning unique identification numbers to employees who have computer access and restricting physical access to data concerning individual cardholders as further security measures.
Goal Five: Monitor and Test Network Security Routinely
It’s not enough to simply establish security protocols and standards. You must test them to make sure they are operating efficiently as expected and that there are no holes in the process. This means you must not only monitor access to sensitive information and cardholder data, but that you must also regularly tests the security measures and responses you have in place.
Goal Six: Create and Maintain an Effective Information Security Policy
Your organization must develop a policy that addresses security concerns and responses related to information security.
Becoming PCI compliant can be a huge expense for your small business if you are not careful. Choosing the credit card processing company you work with can help you minimize those expenses greatly.