What you need to know about PCI compliance

What you need to know about PCI compliance

Storing credit card numbers is a necessity for any business that processes payments from customers. However, it can also be a source of major risk if not managed properly. The Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) is an industry-wide security standard for companies that store, process and transmit customer credit card information. This blog post will provide an overview of PCI compliance and discuss why it is important for businesses to understand and comply with the standard. We’ll also cover the steps you can take to ensure your company meets PCI requirements and avoid costly fines or data breaches that may result from non-compliance.

What is PCI compliance and why is it important?

The PCI DSS was established by the five larger credit companies; Visa, Mastercard, Discover, JCB, and American Express. The standard was formed to facilitate the process regarding card payments for companies and make them as safe as possible to limit the risk of card fraud. The standard is designed to protect customers’ credit card information from being stolen. PCI has recently established a 4.0 version that includes updates like more accessible controls and more detailed risk analysis. PCI compliance includes a set of requirements that must be met in order to store credit card or debit card numbers.

Who is covered by PC compliance?

The PCI regulation covers many different parties who may come in contact with sensitive card numbers, such as payment service providers, suppliers, e-shoppers, and others. It also applies to those who handle cards in the physical world, including software and terminal providers as well as network operators. Depending on how one is involved with PCI, the requirements can vary significantly; for example, a payment service provider’s demands differ greatly from those of a merchant. The regulations can also change depending upon how many card transactions an individual entity processes.

PCI six main areas

  1. Network security

    In order to ensure that all transactions can be conducted, data needs to be transmitted over a secure network. This requires robust firewalls that are effective without causing unnecessary inconveniences for cardholders and suppliers. In addition, customers should be able to change their own authentication information, personal identification number, and password in a convenient way on a regular basis and securely.

  2. Protect card information

    Any information on a cardholder must be protected, regardless of where it is stored. Archives that contain data such as birthdays, personal information, email addresses, phone numbers, etc., must be protected from a data breach. Whenever card data is transmitted over a public network, it must be encrypted effectively. Digital encryption is essential with all forms of payment transactions, especially for e-commerce.

  3. Protection against vulnerabilities

    Using frequent updates to anti-virus programs, anti-spyware, and anti-malware solutions, the system should be able to defend the corporation against malicious hackers. In order to secure an acceptable level of security, the operating system (OS) and patches offered by suppliers should be installed and updated regularly.

  4. Authorization check

    Access to system information and operations should be limited and controlled. Every person that uses a computer in the system needs to be given a unique and confidential identification name or number.

  5. Monitoring and tests

    It is important to continuously monitor and test a network to ensure that all security measures and processes are in place, working correctly, and are kept up-to-date.

  6. Use of security policy

    A formal information security policy should also be established, as well as maintained and followed by all parties involved. Failure to follow-up and comply can lead to serious consequences.

credit card and phone on laptop

Consequences of not being PCI compliant

Any organization handling credit card information must meet the Payment Card Industry Security Standards Council's set of security standards, or risk fines from credit card companies if a data breach occurs. Furthermore, not meeting these requirements could lead to loss of business opportunities, as many businesses require vendors to be compliant. Finally, any data breach could cause long-term damage to an organization's reputation and diminish customer confidence.

How to become PCI compliant

According to the PCI DSS, there are 12 basic requirements that your business must follow to ensure PCI compliance:

  1. Install and maintain a firewall configuration to protect data

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

  3. Protect stored data

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

  5. Use and regularly update anti-virus software or programs

  6. Develop and maintain secure systems and applications

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

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

  9. Restrict physical access to cardholder data

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

  11. Regularly test security systems and processes

  12. Maintain a policy that addresses information security for employees


To sum up, by making sure that you are PCI-compliant, you will be certain that you have taken all of the necessary steps to store and protect customers' credit card information securely. This article has given you an idea of what PCI compliance is about and how to get started. We suggest you visit the official page for more info, as well as to take some time in educating yourself on the correct standards for safely securing customer data. So if you take credit card payments, make sure you’re PCI compliant! It’s important for the safety of your customers and your business.

Are you looking to build a website that takes credit cards payment? We have a lot of experience and are happy to assist you. Contact us today.

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