What Is PCI Compliance?

PCI is a security standard for all businesses that process or accept credit/debit card payments. It seeks to secure the integrity of cardholder information.

While cases of cybersecurity have been rising across all industries, the financial sector is the hardest hit. Topping the list of the most prevalent financial cybercrime is credit card fraud. Therefore, all enterprises storing, transmitting, or processing cardholder data must have a consistent standard to guide their security protocols.

The Payment Card Industry Data Security Standards (PCI DSS) is an initiative of leading card payment brands to steer merchants and acquire banks’ security initiatives.

Why Should Your Business Be PCI Compliant?

The most basic reason is that non-compliance with the Standard is quite costly. Note that PCI is a Standard and not a state or federal law enforced by the government. Implementation of the Standard is wholly based on your contracts with both the acquiring banks and the payment brands. However, this does not make it any less severe.

In case of any violations, you can be sure to face stiff penalties from the BankCard Groups. Worse still, they can ban your business from receiving card payments temporarily or even permanently. With such sanctions, you will definitely lose a good chunk of your customers. Besides, your organization’s reputation will be gravely tarnished. In any case, you’ll have successfully demonstrated your incompetence to secure sensitive credentials like credit card information.

But that’s not all — a PCI violation is also often considered as a GDPR breach. That’s because PCI Standards define cardholder data as personally identifiable information. So, you may also be liable for an additional €20,000,000 (or 4% of your annual turnover) due to GDPR violation.

Imagine your business faced with hefty penalties from your acquiring banks, a ban on receiving card payments, and an extra $23,294,00 GDPR violation fines — all at the same time. Even a well-established and financially robust organization could just be staring at a business-ending event.

But you don’t need enforcement actions to fulfill your moral obligations to your clientele, right?

How Can Your Organization Stay PCI Compliant?

Let’s start with small businesses using standalone terminals from the BankCard Group:

  • Every staff member with access to credit card databases must have a unique ID: Only then can you effectively monitor how they access and use such information.
  • All gadgets processing card payments must be password protected: The passwords must be complex; do not rely on system default passcodes. Where necessary, implement protocols for password expiration and complexity.
  • You must restrict access to cardholder credentials to a need-to-know basis only. The Standard also obligates you to have precise records of all access attempts and logon activities.
  • Maintain clear policies and procedures on how to handle cardholder information.

Larger businesses with third-party software or Point-of-Sale Systems must implement these additional security measures:

  • You must have robust and up-to-date firewalls around all your PCs and other devices processing card payments.
  • Antivirus software just in case your network is hacked.
  • PCI compliance scans every quarter of the year. The quarterly scans must be done by a PCI certified third-party company.

Looking For Ways To Become PCI Compliant?

Being PCI compliant is not just a means to evade enforcement fines. As you must have noticed, most of the Standard’s requirements are your everyday security measures. Compliance with them, therefore, enhances your cybersecurity. It’s also good for public relations.

Whether it’s formulating compliance frameworks and policies or help with fixing issues before or after an audit, Alliance Technology Partners is here for you.

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