What Is PCI-DSS?

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PCI-DSS, or the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard, is a set of security standards that apply to any business that processes, stores, or transmits credit card information. If your business falls into one of these categories, it’s important to understand PCI-DSS and make sure your website is compliant with its requirements. In this blog post, we will discuss what PCI-DSS is, why it’s important, how it works, as well as what are its compliance levels, security requirements, and benefits.

What is PCI-DSS?

PCI-DSS is a set of security standards created by the Payment Card Industry Security Standards Council (PCI SSC) to protect cardholders’ data and reduce fraud. PCI-DSS applies to any business that processes, stores, or transmits credit card information. This includes businesses of all sizes, from small mom-and-pop shops to large multinational corporations. PCI-DSS is not a law, but complying with its security requirements is mandatory.

Why is PCI-DSS important?

PCI-DSS is important because it helps protect businesses and consumers from credit card fraud. When credit card information is compromised, it can lead to costly chargebacks for businesses and financial hardship for consumers. PCI-DSS helps reduce the risk of fraud by setting security standards that all businesses must follow, namely by encrypting credit card data and keeping it secure.

PCI-DSS require businesses to implement a set of security measures to protect credit card data. These security measures include, but are not limited to, encrypting credit card data, maintaining a secure network, and creating strong access controls. PCI-DSS also requires businesses to regularly test their security measures and keep up to date with the latest security threats.

What are the PCI-DSS requirements?

The PCI SSC outlines 12 requirements for PCI-DSS compliance, which are as follows:

1. Install and maintain a firewall configuration to protect cardholder data

PCI-DSS requires businesses to implement a firewall configuration to protect their network from unauthorized access. This includes creating internal and external firewalls, as well as maintaining up-to-date software and security patches.

2. Do not use vendor-supplied defaults for system passwords and other security parameters

PCI-DSS requires businesses to change all vendor-supplied default passwords and security settings. This includes, but is not limited to, changing the default password for administrator accounts, disabling unnecessary accounts, and ensuring that all accounts have strong passwords.

3. Protect stored cardholder data

PCI-DSS requires businesses to protect any stored credit card information. This includes encrypting all stored data, as well as restricting access to only those who need it.

4. Encrypt transmission of cardholder data across open, public networks

PCI-DSS requires businesses to encrypt all credit card information that is transmitted over open, public networks. This includes using SSL/TLS encryption for all web traffic and email communications.

5. Use and regularly update anti-virus software

PCI-DSS requires businesses to use, and regularly update, anti-virus software on all systems. This includes ensuring that all systems have the latest security patches installed.

6. Develop and maintain secure systems and applications

PCI-DSS requires businesses to develop and maintain secure systems and applications. This includes ensuring that all software is up-to-date, patching any security vulnerabilities, and implementing proper access control measures.

7. Restrict access to cardholder data by business need-to-know

PCI-DSS requires businesses to restrict access to credit card information to only those who need it. This includes creating and maintaining user accounts, as well as setting proper permissions and controls.

8. Assign a unique ID to each person with computer access

PCI-DSS requires businesses to assign a unique ID to each person who has access to their computer systems. This includes creating user accounts, as well as setting proper permissions and controls.

9. Restrict physical access to cardholder data

PCI-DSS requires businesses to restrict physical access to their credit card information. This includes ensuring that all data is stored in a secure location, such as a locked cabinet or safe.

10. Track and monitor all access to network resources and cardholder data

PCI-DSS requires businesses to track and monitor all access to their network resources and credit card information. This includes logging all access, as well as monitoring for any unusual or suspicious activity.

11. Regularly test security systems and processes

PCI-DSS requires businesses to regularly test their security systems and processes. This includes testing for vulnerabilities, as well as conducting regular audits.

12. Maintain a policy that addresses information security

PCI-DSS requires businesses to maintain a policy that addresses information security. This policy should include but is not limited to, measures for protecting cardholder data, as well as procedures for handling security incidents.

What are the levels of PCI-DSS compliance?

PCI-DSS compliance is divided into four levels, depending on the number of transactions your organization processes every year:

  • Level I: More than six million transactions per year.
  • Level II: One to six million transactions per year.
  • Level III: 20,000 to one million transactions per year.
  • Level IV: Fewer than 20,000 transactions per year.

What are the benefits of PCI-DSS compliance?

There are many benefits to PCI-DSS compliance, including the following:

Reduced risk of fraud

PCI-DSS compliance helps reduce the risk of credit card fraud by requiring businesses to implement security measures that protect cardholder data.

Improved customer satisfaction

PCI-DSS compliance can improve customer satisfaction by showing customers that their credit card information is secure.

Enhanced reputation

PCI-DSS compliance can enhance a business’s reputation by demonstrating its commitment to security.

Preparation for other standards

Meeting the PCI-DSS requirements will give you a head start to comply with other regulations, such as GDPR and HIPAA.

Wrapping up

PCI-DSS compliance, as with other types of regulatory requirements, can prove challenging for businesses. Working with our PCI-DSS compliance experts will help you streamline your compliance process and generate great value for your business. Maintaining annual compliance to these standards is a priority for your business, namely for building customer trust and partnerships while preventing costly fines and protecting your reputation.

Becoming PCI-compliant will also help secure your e-commerce website, just as using a PCI-compliant third-party payment provider will.

Contact us if you need help with your PCI-DSS compliance.

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