PCI compliance

The search for new ways to reduce financial costs has led to the emergence of electronic payments, which have become an affordable tool for quick purchases. Using a credit or debit card is a faster, less error-prone, and easier payment method for many people. Institutions that store, process, or transmit card data must adhere to the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard. The standard contains more than 200 requirements, which you can read thoroughly on the PCI Security Council Standards website. Compatibility with PCI payment services has a large number of clear advantages. There is an opportunity to protect card data and significantly reduce the risk of personal data leakage.  All merchants, payment systems, and organizations that store and process sensitive online card data must comply with the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS). Your system should have the highest level of PCI compliance, providing a secure environment for customers. The Data Security Standard was developed by the Security Standards Board, a joint effort of Visa, MasterCard, American Express, Discover, and JCB to reduce the risk of sensitive personal data being leaked, valuable information stolen, and other types of cyber fraud. Compliance with these standards is mandatory for companies of all sizes. PCI standards protect not only you as a merchant, but also reliably protect cardholders. There are four levels of PCI compliance based on annual transaction volume. Note that each level has different requirements that you must meet.


Important reasons why your business needs PCI compliance?

PCI compliance is not a luxury, it’s a must for companies that transact with payment cards. For more modern organizations going digital, compliance with the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) should be a priority, not an afterthought. In the current situation, it is not surprising that almost every company is struggling with many of the many challenges that come before it. Despite all the excitement and uncertainty, PCI compliance doesn’t seem like the most urgent task on your to-do list. However, the domino effect of the coronavirus epidemic has led to a rapid acceleration of the digital transformation of companies, in particular, a sharp increase in the number of companies focusing on online payments. Compliance with PCI standards has never been more important than it is nowadays because cash has long since played a role in payments. The revolution happened with the gradual spread of contactless, online, and mobile payments. Consumers feel more and more comfortable with these technologies, and transactions have become fast and seamless. The pandemic has led to the rapid adoption of new technologies in the business world and encouraged many people to use online, efficient contactless payment methods. In today’s realities, all companies must remember that the pace of transformation should never come at the expense of high standards of data protection and information security. Failure to comply with the Data Security Standard (DSS) in the Payment Card Industry (PCI) puts at risk all the security processes that run throughout your company. Your business must be ready to adapt to difficult situations, you must be happy to use all the beneficial opportunities of digital transformation. It should not be forgotten that any business that receives, transmits, processes, or stores cardholder data must carry out all these important processes in the most responsible and completely secure manner.

The role played by PCI DSS in today’s realities of business activity

Adopting a PCI DSS compliance process does not mean mechanically completing a compliance declaration form; your key goal is to ensure ongoing security for your business customers and data security in the business environment itself. A large number of companies understand the true value of this process, some consider it expensive. When you look at it from another perspective, you can see the huge benefits of using PCI-DSS standards to strengthen corporate security, protect data and increase resistance to various cyber-attacks. In the event of a security incident, you have a clear management and response plan, which means you can get back up and running faster and minimize disruption. No doubt accepting card payments and making purchases with the click of a button or swipe of your card has many important benefits for you and your customers. You can significantly increase revenue for your business simply by offering more payment methods available to your customers. In this case, the advantages are obvious, but you should be as vigilant as possible and aware of your responsibilities, which are related to this, and understand all the potential risks.

Essentially, you need to take all necessary measures to reliably protect cardholder data from both accidental data loss and malicious data intrusion attempts, which may be in the form of fraudulent transactions or illegal hacking attempts to obtain personal data. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, all of these cyber threats have become much more visible than ever. In many cases, telecommuters are now being paid online as they work from temporary home offices, often using their devices. All these conditions provide a real opportunity for hackers, who are engaged in the search for vulnerabilities of organizations, which, in turn, are forced to change their business model in a short period. Compliance with PCI DSS standards used to be important, but during the pandemic, it has become crucial.

PCI compliance goes a long way in helping organizations detect and prevent physical and network attacks. This standard enforces other important security standards that companies must carefully adhere to, as it can improve operational efficiency and reduce the cost of a data breach. Compliance with the PCI standard is not mandatory, but this does not mean that non-compliance with this standard does not matter. Brands can issue fines, terminate service, and even suspend accounts for organizations that are not PCI compliant. Agents may experience financial loss if cardholder data is compromised, and may be responsible for card re-issuance and future detection and prevention services required by cardholders. Compliance with the PCI standard allows you to avoid these negative effects, so it is important to thoroughly know all the glossary of PCI terms and fulfill the initial security requirements for compliance with the PCI standard.

To do this, all organizations and service providers must submit a vulnerability scan to an approved testing provider based on the number of transactions per card or according to the size of the institution. Compliance must be checked annually. Merchants or agents that process less than 6 million transactions per year (levels 2, 3, and 4) must complete the PCI questionnaire and demonstrate compliance with this standard. Once completed, you should receive your final results and all required documents. For example, Tier 1 organizations that processed more than 6 million transactions in the past year must undergo an annual on-site audit by a certified security auditor who has completed the PCI Internal Security Assessment training program. 

A key issue with PCI compliance is the myth that PCI compliance is purely an IT organization’s problem. This is related to technology, as much of the support is related to network security. Cyber attackers are more likely to discover that sensitive data has been compromised by non-technical people and methods. Employees who work with card payment systems should be trained on how your company maintains PCI compliance. Government agencies are stepping up PCI compliance because PCI compliance means they can stay compliant with leading companies and provide their customers with the right level of security. Start planning for compliance upgrades now and make sure it’s included in your company’s plans.

The cost of a security breach

The financial impact of an incident depends on several factors, including the size and scope of the incident, the payment channel it affects, and the number of transactions. Another important concern is the need to respond to security breaches by initiating a criminal investigation, which is required by the payment card industry. After notification to the appropriate regulatory authority and interested parties, an investigation will be conducted to determine the full extent of the incident and provide recommendations for necessary corrective actions. The cost can vary greatly depending on the nature of the incident, which immediately convinces you that efforts to prevent security breaches through a proactive approach to PCI compliance are always more cost-effective solutions. The reconciliation process doesn’t have to be expensive or complicated. Although the PCI DSS compliance process is rigorous, a trusted certified security assessor makes the process manageable and stress-free. By providing expert advice on how to accelerate your business, a certified evaluator can help you identify specific and concise needs, ensuring a quality process and avoiding unnecessary financial costs. Your PCI DSS compliance evaluator is helpful, accessible, and works closely with the business to achieve and maintain compliance, which translates directly into increased customer card data security. It is important to note that even if a company has conducted a compliance audit within the last 12 months, subsequent changes to systems and processes will require a new audit and reassessment. The key message for any business that accepts card payments is that the benefits of accepting cashless transactions far outweigh the challenges of PCI compliance if you are proactive and committed. It should not be forgotten that the damage caused is often irreversible. You and your business must be prepared to address the challenges of the Payment Card Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) to ensure corporate cybersecurity and meet all customer data security needs.

By Jim O Brien/CEO

CEO and expert in transport and Mobile tech. A fan 20 years, mobile consultant, Nokia Mobile expert, Former Nokia/Microsoft VIP,Multiple forum tech supporter with worldwide top ranking,Working in the background on mobile technology, Weekly radio show, Featured on the RTE consumer show, Cavan TV and on TRT WORLD. Award winning Technology reviewer and blogger. Security and logisitcs Professional.