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What You Should Know About PCI Compliance

If you accept or process payment card transactions, you need to know about PCI compliance. Cardholder information is one of the most sensitive categories of data there is, and that’s no exaggeration. Cardholder information isn’t just insight into a cardholder’s world. It’s a doorway to gain a complete picture of a cardholder’s identity.

Sure, this information is necessary for payment card transactions, but if these details somehow breach these boundaries, the impact is endless. Most businesses who process payment card transactions follow similar processes, relying on merchant services vendors or payment card transaction devices like terminals to process payments and ensure security throughout the transaction. The reality is, assuming these are self-contained and completely secure without taking any steps on your part is an extremely high-stakes game you cannot afford to lose.

How Does PCI Compliance Impact Data Security?

Leveraging sophisticated technology, the payment card industry has seen a major evolution in advancing security in the last decade. Never mind the carbon paper receipts from long ago, payment card transactions are incorporating more state-of-the-art concepts like contactless payments and technology like embedded chips with encrypted data.

While electronic terminals and payment transaction devices embrace newer technology, there are greater risks with the data being intercepted at more opportunities. The entire payment card transaction ecosystem involves vendors, retailers, payment processing networks, credit card companies, banks issuing credit or debit cards, and the list goes on. The more parties involved, the greater the risk that data security is compromised. It’s a well-honed dance where each party is mutually reliant on everyone to take cybersecurity very seriously and embrace the latest security measures to protect cardholder information.

How Can I Make Sure I Am PCI Compliant?

Since 2006, the Payment Card Industry Security Standards Council has overseen the payment card industry to protect cardholder account information and enforce uniform security measures for all industry players to minimize the risk of a cardholder data breach.

The guidelines published by the Council, the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standards (PCI DSS), help everyone in the payment card ecosystem safeguard this cardholder data by meeting minimum security standards with which all parties should be compliant, including how this data should be stored, accessed, and processed. These requirements are categorized into primary technology areas:

  • IT systems and network security, including password best practices
  • Data encryptions, like with sensitive cardholder information
  • Monitor for security vulnerabilities to identify and fix issues immediately
  • Review network activity routinely, tracking all users accessing the network to prevent unauthorized access.
  • Limit access to sensitive information
  • Train all users to follow formal information security processes

Is PCI Compliance Worth the Hassle?

Sophisticated technology needs sophisticated security to keep data safe, and this same advanced security isn’t limited to just your data: it protects your entire business. You can’t afford security vulnerabilities – you need to be PCI compliant today.

The risk of credit card fraud and identity theft is just the beginning – your business and your reputation depend on compliance.