Many data breaches that occur involve cards of some sort. The major targets of the thieves are e-commerce platforms and the retail sector.
That’s why complying with payment card industry (PCI) regulations is important for every business. Doing so doesn’t only protect your valuable assets but also your customers.
What is PCI compliance?
PCI compliance is a requirement for any business that transmits or processes cardholder data to abide by the global data security standards (DSS) in order to protect that data. The standards are formulated and enforced by the PCI Security Council.
The standards apply to credit, prepaid and debit cards. Automated clearing house (ACH) payments are exempted from the regulations.
Although the regulations are normally the same, every credit card company pronounces their own rules. That’s why it is possible to find a few differences in PCI compliance standards.
Businesses are generally divided into four risk levels by the PCI security council depending on the size of transactions they process per day or per year. This is regardless of whether the transactions are e-commerce, in-person, or if the merchant has faced a data breach.
Below is the breakdown of the risk levels:
• Merchant 1: This involves businesses that process more than six million card transactions in a day
• Merchant Level 2: All businesses with over one million card payments per year
• Merchant Level 3: businesses that conduct from 20,000 to one million e-commerce annual transactions
• Merchant Level 4: businesses that carry out at least one million card payments or 20,000 e-commerce payments yearly
Becoming PCI compliant
Abiding by the PCI security standards may sometimes be a challenge for most businesses. However, meeting these requirements is the best solution to shielding your business and customers from fraudsters.
Third-party applications and merchant banks deal with most of the aspects of PCI requirements. This means that most of the work is already done on your behalf.
However, it is your duty to ensure that the third-party systems collaborating with your business comply with the PCI requirement standards.
Your business is supposed to assess and make a report about your efforts. All businesses that fall under the Level 4 PCI risk level are required to carry out quarterly regular network scans, fill in an annual PCI questionnaire, and submit a compliance report.
Sometimes the PC council, banks, and other financial institutions may ask for attestation of compliance (AOC) to verify if your business is PCI compliant. In order to meet all the scanning requirements, you can hire an accredited scanning vendor (ASV).
One of the first steps in a DSS assessment is to determine the extent of eth cardholder data using the sales process. This entails knowing the locations together with the flow of cardholder data, processes, and the type of technology that they interact with.
Step 1: Maintaining a secure network
Network security is supposed to shield the system from unauthorized access both internally and externally. Below are some of the tips to secure your network:
• Maintain firewalls
• Test network connection
• Isolate systems
• Use secure passwords
Step 2: Protect cardholder data
According to PCI requirements, personal user information such as the name of the cardholder, service date, primary account number, and expiry date can only be kept on secure networks.
Step 3: Manage vulnerabilities
After securing your system, the next step is to turn your attention to managing potential vulnerabilities. Phishers and hackers are always on the lookout for the slightest loophole to get into your network.
Step 4: Implement access controls
All employees that have access to cardholder data are potential loopholes. To guarantee the security of sensitive data, restrict access to a need-to-know basis only.
Step 5: Monitor and test your network
It is important to conduct regular tests on your network to identify any security breaches.
Step 6: have a strong information security policy
All employees in your company or business should understand the importance of data protection. The best way to do this is by having a strong policy of information protection.