Businesses that accept credit card payments from customers are required to comply with the PCI data security standard, or PCI DSS, in order to protect their customers and clients. PCI compliance is essential in today’s digital world where credit card information can be passed over the Internet or stored electronically. PCI DSS is a federally regulated standard that protects cardholders by ensuring that businesses accepting credit cards are working with secure networks to keep cardholder data safe.
What Is the PCI Data Security Standard?
The payment card industry data security standard or PCI DSS is a directive dictating the standard security requirements for any business that takes or stores credit cardholder information. Companies that do so are required by federal law to adhere to certain network standards to ensure the safety of cardholder information and prevent data theft. PCI compliance is monitored through audits and any company that accepts cardholder information can be subject to such an audit.
PCI Compliance and Meeting the PCI DSS
Meeting the PCI data security standard is one of the more important reasons why any company that obtains cardholder information must have a secure network. This security provides protection from many other threats as well, not just the threat of credit card information. Every company should consider this a part of their total threat management. Because there are vulnerabilities present in all parts of the credit card sale process, companies using cardholder data must take active measures to reduce threats to these cardholders. PCI compliance can be achieved in the following ways:
- Secure Network - The first step a company should take to ensure PCI compliance is by having the most secure network possible. This includes firewalls, utilizing appropriate password protection, and other security features. Networks should be regularly monitored and all security systems routinely checked for proper function and that they are providing necessary levels of network protection.
- Encryption - Companies that use or store credit card data must properly protect that data with encryption, which is additional to any network protection.
- Threat Management - A network should be further secured by appropriate threat management efforts, including anti-virus and malware protection. Threat management software must be regularly updated.
- Access Control - Another essential part of network security and PCI compliance is providing the right access control. Companies must restrict both physical and digital access to cardholder information,and maintain this by providing unique user IDs to anyone with access to this information.
- Information Security Policy - With all other security measures in place, it is also essential for a company to develop, publish, and maintain an information security policy for both employees and customers.
- Assess for Compliance - While implementing the above security measures, companies should also assess their compliance with a qualified security assessor (QSA) and be sure to use qualified card scanning equipment. Assessment is an important step in ensuring that a company has the appropriate measures in place to meet the PCI DSS to effectively protect customers from data theft.
Network security and protecting cardholder information is extremely important in today’s age of digital threats and information theft. To provide the best PCI compliance and avoid the liability of non-compliance, a business must understand the federal PCI data security standard and make sure they adhere to this standard to protect their clients/customers and avoid penalties if audited. Security that meets the PCI DSS has strong network security, encryption, appropriate threat management, and any other means of preventing unlawful access to sensitive cardholder information!
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