Simply put, the Payment card industry (PCI) compliance means when businesses follow standards issued by PCI security standard councils to protect the data provided by credit cardholders which are channelized when transactions are processed. Credit card companies have made it mandatory for businesses to be PCI compliant to ensure that the transactions taking place are safe.
Being PCI compliant is not compulsory by law but it is mandatory by court precedent. The standards issued by the PCI security standards council include 12 key requirements, 78 base requirements, and 400 test procedures which tell whether a merchant or a business is PCI compliant or not.
The 12 utmost important requirements include
- Use firewalls to protect data- It is the first and foremost thing we can do to avoid and block unknown bodies from accessing our private data.
- Appropriate password protection- All the software and devices should be protected with strong passwords and the passwords should also be changed from time to time.
- Protect cardholder data- the data collected from cardholders should be encoded so that there is no misuse.
- Encryption of transmitted cardholder data- the data collected from cardholders is to be further transmitted. Before sending it across, it should be encrypted.
- Utilize antivirus software- We should install antivirus software as they help in protecting the data. They should also be regularly updated and maintained.
- Update software and maintain security systems- Updated software brings with itself more security. Therefore, we should update each and every software and not just the primary ones.
- Restrict access to data- Anyone who does not require data should not be given any access. All the data of the cardholders should be kept confidential.
- Unique IDs assigned to those with access to data- each and every person who has access to encoded data should have a different ID to obtain the data.
- Restrict physical access to data- There should be a separate confidential room or cabinet to store the data of the cardholders and a record should be maintained relating to when and by whom the data has been accessed.
- Create and monitor access logs- A record should be kept of how the data is flowing in the organization. Separate software should be used to monitor the logs.
- Test security systems on a regular basis- Since the data is used by people and software, a regular test needs to be conducted to ensure the safety of the data.
- Document policies- A document should be curated of all the employees, software used, and equipment.
Benefits of PCI Compliance
The advantages of compliance comprise the reduced risk of data breaches, protecting cardholder data, thus keeping away from chances for identity theft. It is good for companies to be compliant as it reduces any penalties related to data breaches. It aids in building a company’s name and also keeps the customers satisfied in the sense that they are dealing with a responsible and accountable company. This in turn will help in customer retention and building brand loyalty.