What Is PCI Compliance?

Every year, millions of people worldwide fall victim to credit card fraud. According to a report, global card fraud losses are predicted to exceed 35 billion dollars in 2020. Every merchant is mandated to protect client payment information to prevent credit card fraud. For this reason, various guidelines have been laid out to protect cardholder data. An example of such a policy is the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS).

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What Is the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS)?

Launched on September 7th, 2006, the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) is a series of security guidelines established and maintained by the PCI Security Standards Council. The PCI Security Standard Council is an independent agency established by all major card brands (MasterCard, VISA, American Express, JCB, and Discover). These guidelines are intended to ensure that all businesses that transmit, process, or store debit and credit card information develop and maintain a secure environment to reduce the likelihood of the financial data getting stolen.

Why Is the Payment Card Industry (PCI) Compliance Important? Credit card companies are mandated to enforce Payment Card Industry (PCI) compliance to help ensure the security of credit card transactions in the payment industry. All companies that accept card payments or those that transmit, process, or store cardholder data must comply with these regulations. According to a report, only 39.7% of American companies are 100% PCI compliant.

What Are The Requirements for PCI Compliance? To ensure PCI compliance, a company needs to adhere to the guidelines set by the PCI Standards Council. These guidelines are considered the best security practices. Its six significant requirements include the following:

Build and Maintain a Secure Network and Systems

  • Install and Maintain Firewalls: Configure firewalls to block access of unknown entities from accessing private data.
  • Create and Regularly Update System Passwords: Third-party products frequently come with passwords that are easily accessible by the public. Create, maintain, and regularly update your system passwords with unique and secure passwords.

Protect Cardholder Information

  • Protect Stored Card Information: Companies that store cardholder data should provide multiple defense layers and secure data protection methods such as authentication, passwords, and physical restrictions to servers.
  • Encrypt Transmitted Data Across Public Networks: Cardholder information is often sent across multiple channels. This data must be encrypted to ensure that it is unreadable and useless to an intruder.

Maintain a Vulnerability Control Program

  • Install and Frequently Update Anti-Virus Software: It’s crucial to install and regularly update your antivirus software to protect your systems against the most recently developed malware.
  • Establish and Maintain Secure Applications and Systems: Timely update applications or any software associated with your system to patch security loopholes.

Implement Robust Access Control Measures

  • Restrict Access to Data on a Need-to-know Basis: Cardholder data should only be accessed on a ‘need to know’ basis.  Those that do not need access to this data should not have it.
  • Give a Unique ID to Each Person with Computer Access: Employees who have access to cardholder data should have individual credentials and identification for access. Unique IDs minimize vulnerability and facilitate a quicker response time in case of a data breach.
  • Restrict Physical Access to Data: Cardholder data should be stored in a secure location, and access should be limited.

Regularly Monitor and Test Networks

  • Monitor and Track All Access to Network Resources and Data: All activity involving access to cardholder information requires a log entry. This will help pinpoint the cause in the event of a security breach.
  • Frequently Test Security Processes and Systems: With regular testing processes in place, you can ensure your client’s data is safe at all times.

Maintain an Information Security Policy

  • Maintain a Policy That Addresses Information Security for Employees and Contractors: The policy should include all acceptable uses of technology and annual processes for risk analysis and operational security procedures.

PCI compliance is a core security component for all companies that handle cardholder data. If merchants don’t manage cardholder data according to PCI guidelines, cardholder information could be easily hacked and used in identity fraud or a multitude of fraudulent actions. Non-compliance can also result in substantial fines for agreement violations and negligence.

Are You Looking for A PCI Compliance Partner You Can Rely On?

Although becoming PCI compliant may seem overwhelming for your business, having the right IT company as a compliance partner will make the process easier.

At Network Outsource, we offer years of expertise and experience in helping businesses in New York City, New Jersey, and Long Island become PCI compliant.

Consult with us today, or call us on (516) 207-1839, and let us help you keep your company compliant and your clients’ data safe.