With the growth of cashless transactions and online services, online payment methods involving credit cards have increased manifolds. With that, credit card fraud and theft have seen a significant rise also. PCI compliance data standards of security are a bunch of instructions that credit card transaction handling companies are advised to follow. These guidelines had been laid out by the major credit card companies in 2006 to secure customers of online transactions against credit card data theft.
There is an estimate that billions of dollars are wasted each year due to credit card fraud just in the United States. In order to inhibit these losses in the area of credit card fraud, consumers and credit card information protection should be of top priority to every individual involved in the transaction. PCI compliance is one of the significant ways a business can put up safeguards against credit card fraud and other online transaction-based criminal activities.
Requirements for PCI DSS compliance
For a business to be PCI compliant, the company’s main aims following credit card payments are spread over six goals. The goals being;
- The creation and maintenance of systems that are secure
- Protection of sensitive data of cardholders
- Maintain a Vulnerability Management Program
- The access to sensitive data should be controlled
- Testing and monitoring of the networks on a regular basis
- Sustaining a policy for information security
Furthermore, to achieve these goals, there are a set of 12 requirements that are distributed over these goals, and the completion of the requirements signifies the completion of a goal. The requirements are:
- They are installing and maintaining a firewall: Firewalls work to prevent foreign or unknown entities from accessing private data. It’s due to this property that PCI DSS requires them.
- Change the default vendor-supplied passwords: Devices such as POS systems, modems, and routers come with default security codes that the public can access easily. Therefore it is necessary to keep track of all devices that need passwords and change them regularly.
- Protect stored cardholder data: Two-fold protection and encryption of credit card information using encryption keys is an essential part of PCI compliance. Regular scanning of account numbers is needed to ensure that no unencrypted data remains.
- Encrypt cardholder data while transmission: Cardholder data must be sent to known locations for the business, for that it needs to be encrypted. Companies should not send the credit card information to unknown locations.
- Protect systems against malware: Antivirus software needs to install in all equipment that interacts with consumer credit card information, and even in places where antivirus cannot be established, the business should take measures against the spread of the virus.
- Update systems and applications: With new updates on software and the systems you use for your business, better security and protection against more vulnerability are provided. Updating software and systems regularly can help inhibit security threats.
- Restrict cardholder data access: Data involving cardholder information should be strictly “need to know” only. Any individual, staff member or not that does not need to have that information should not have any information about cardholder data.
- Access to the system should be identified and authenticated: Each individual who has access to the cardholder data needs to have individual credentials that allow for identifying the individual in case required.
- No manual access to cardholder data: The sensitive data of the cardholders, if written in a physical form or typed and stored, should be kept locked in a safe area. Access to the information should be negligible, even if someone at some point has access, it should be recorded.
- Access tracking to cardholder data: This is done by creating and maintaining access logs to the cardholder data.
- Regular testing of protocols: Many of the solutions as mentioned above and requirements can falter or malfunction. Also, they can be prone to human error. Therefore testing them regularly to ensure everything is in order is very important.
- Sustaining a policy for information security for all personnel: The logs of access to cardholder data, the flow of company information, and the use of company information after-sale are all required to be documented securely.
All of the above requirements are crucial to a business that wants to achieve and maintain PCI compliance. It all seems a lot of work, but it is not of avail.
Why is it important to my business?
First of all, research by Verizon showed that companies who had experienced data breaches did not follow PCI DSS controls appropriately. Also, being PCI compliant means that your business is in line with security and privacy laws and exhibits acceptable data security practices that any organization should follow. Having the right tools will allow you to ensure PCI compliance much more comfortable than it may seem at first glance. Some significant benefits of being PCI compliant are:
- Customer trust improves as they feel safer knowing that the business they are dealing with has acceptable security practices with their sensitive information. This will make for repeat customers.
- Partners and payment brands have the right image of your business due to acceptable data security practices; you ensure that their information remains safe.
- By being PCI compliant, you are more than halfway ready to comply with other additional regulations such as HIPPA, SOX, and many others.
- The corporate security strategies of a business greatly benefit from the PCI-compliant nature of a company.
- The overall IT infrastructure becomes much more efficient as all the minor details are already being handled in an orderly fashion.
Issues due to PCI Non-Compliance
If a business fails to meet PCI compliance, it can face some devastating results. The sensitive information of customers is not something that can be handled with carelessness. Failing to abide by the PCI requirements properly can lead to:
- Data breaches could cause loss to each party involved, including the customer and the merchant.
- There can be a loss of reputation and damage to future endeavors of business.
- Breaches of data can lead to loss of sales and a loss of company standing in the community. The low share price is also sometimes an indicator of account data breaches.
- Legal issues such as lawsuits from customers or partners based on inconsistent payments or fraud can ensue. Insurance claims can become harder to get, and there can be several fines involved because of non-compliance.
Even though keeping up with all the requirements of PCI compliance can seem like a challenging task. It is still way better to go through that than to go through the issues that can result because of Non-compliance.