PCI compliance is a vital concept to understand for any business that handles credit card payments. Yet, all the acronyms and central ideas can be a bit confusing to those who aren’t tech-savvy. Here’s what you need to know about PCI compliance and how it can benefit your business.
What is PCI Compliance?
Payment Card Industry (PCI) compliance refers to a set of regulations set by the PCI Security Standards Council — an organization founded in 2006 by the major credit card companies. These regulations ensure that all credit card transactions are secure. All payment processors require PCI compliance for businesses that accept credit cards as a form of payment. PCI compliance greatly reduces the likelihood that customers will have their credit card information stolen by hackers or other malicious agents. Being compliant indicates that the business has properly followed the standards set by the PCI Standards Council. These standards are known as the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standards (PCI DSS).
Why Is PCI Compliance Necessary?
Every time a customer purchases a product using a credit card, their sensitive financial and personal data is being put at risk. Although there is no way to eliminate that risk completely, PCI compliance is proven to reduce instances of credit card fraud enough so that consumers can feel safe making purchases. The PCI Security Standards Council was founded to create a standard set of procedures all businesses can follow to ensure the security of sensitive information.
Every payment processor requires PCI compliance because it has proven to be successful at preventing hackers from gaining access to important data. Stolen financial information and personal data can be used for a variety of malicious purposes. Therefore, any business that intends on accepting credit card payments must familiarize themselves with PCI compliance standards. These standards not only protect your customers, but they also protect your company from losing business or being sued over a security breach. Hackers get more sophisticated every day and it’s impossible for business owners to keep up with proper security protocol without a set of standards to rely on.
How Do You Make Your Business PCI Compliant?
The PCI Security Standards Council has a set of guidelines that businesses must follow to be considered PCI compliant. Those guidelines include 6 major objectives, 12 key requirements, 78 base requirements, and over 400 test procedures. The six major objectives are as follows:
- Build and Maintain a Secure Network and Systems
- Protect Card Holder Data
- Maintain a Vulnerability Management Program
- Implement Strong Access Control Measure
- Regularly Monitor and Test Networks
- Maintain an Information Security Policy
The 12 key requirements and 78 base requirements are practical applications that businesses can implement to achieve these major objectives. The 400 test procedures are actions that can be taken to test the security of your payment systems once the major requirements have been put in place.
PCI compliance may seem complex, but it’s actually quite simple when you break it down into actionable steps. If you need assistance with making your business PCI compliant, feel free to contact us at Parkway Tech. We provide IT support to businesses in Winston, Salem, Greensboro, and the Triad. We’re happy to walk you through the proper steps to make your business PCI compliant, so you can start accepting credit card payments as soon as possible. Give us a call or send us an email whenever you’re ready.