The Ins and Outs Of PCI Compliance

PCI compliance is adherence to regulations that protect consumer credit card information from theft and unauthorized disclosure. It’s mandatory for any organization that processes, stores, and transmits credit card data.

In recent years, there has been a steady increase in credit card fraud and mobile banking crimes. Most of these breaches involve bad cyber actors duplicating bank card credentials and using them for fraudulent transactions at unsuspecting merchants. The bad news is that 60% of small and medium-sized businesses shut down within six months of experiencing such cyberattacks.

Why? You will be required to compensate the bank card brands for the damages and foot bills for replacing the compromised cards in most cases. Along with other mitigation costs, these expenses can spiral to hundreds of thousands or even millions depending on the company size and extent of the damage. If you don’t pay the fines, you risk losing your ability to accept bank card payments.

Whether you pay up or not, the financial ramifications can be business-ending. It is, therefore, critical to be PCI compliant.

Here are quick facts to get you started:

  1. PCI compliance is mandatory for all organizations that accept bank cards for payment.
  2. Besides being PCI compliant, you must also register a PCI compliance certificate with your processors.
  3. If you fail to do both of these, you risk being fined monthly PCI non-compliance fees.

Check out our latest video to learn more on PCI compliance:

So, How Can You Become PCI Certified?

To be PC certified, you must adhere to Payment Card Industry Data Security Standards (PCI DSS). These are a set of guidelines developed by the PCI Standards Council. PCI DSS is a broad concept with over 400 test procedures, but can be broken down into six essential requirements:

  • Protect cardholder data.
  • Build and maintain a secure network and systems.
  • Maintain a reliable vulnerability management program.
  • Implement string access and control measures.
  • Regularly monitor and test your networks.
  • Maintain an information security policy.

Let’s begin with merchants using standalone bank card terminals provided by the BankCard Group:

  • You Must Assign Unique IDs: Cashiers or other employees should only access bank card information, devices, and systems using unique IDs. Only then can you effectively track access and login activities.
  • You Must Use Complex Passwords for all computers that process any bank card transaction. You can achieve this by implementing password complexity and expiration protocols.
  • You Must Encrypt Bank Card Transaction Data: All terminals and software provided by the BankCard groups are usually preprogrammed to encrypt any information they process. If you’re using third-party software or a Point of Sales System, the provider must encrypt the bank card information before reaching the BankCard Group.
  • You Must Restrict Access Privileges: Whether you’re storing bank card information physically or electronically, access should be allowed to just a few manageable individuals. For the rest of the staff, provide access only on a ‘Need to Know’ basis.
  • You Must Maintain Written Policies and Procedures Regarding Bank Card Transaction Information: It’s paramount to document written policies and procedures for all individuals that handle such data.

If you are using third-party Software or Point of Sale System, you must meet these additional PCI rules:

  • Firewalls: Provided that your personal computers process customers’ bank card information, they must be firewall-protected.
  • Anti-virus: You must also install up-to-date antivirus software for all devices that will connect to the processor’s systems.
  • Scans: You should contract with a third-party PCI certified scanning company to have your systems scanned every quarter.

Why Do You Need to Be PCI Compliant?

Besides helping you easily avoid paying non-compliance fines and sanctions on accepting bank card payments, there are several other benefits to PCI compliance:

  • Better Customer Relations: If you are found to be non-compliant with PCI regulations or experience related breaches, be sure to lose your clients. A positive PCI compliance status is a good starting point to market your organization and even retain customers. In any case, who wants to work with an enterprise that jeopardizes the security of their financial credentials?
  • Improved Data Security: Not once or twice have hackers used consumer credentials to penetrate corporate systems. Protecting your users is, therefore, akin to safeguarding your network.

As you must have noticed, PCI compliance is simply a combination of most standard cybersecurity requirements.

Essential Solutions has the requisite expertise to identify which regulations apply to your organization. We help businesses across Baton Rouge, New Orleans & Across Louisiana develop and implement PCI compliance frameworks.

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