Credit Card Compliance

If your company accepts credit cards for payments, PCI compliance applies to you.

Regardless of size or industry, all companies that accept credit cards must adhere to the safeguards mandated by the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard—referred to as the PCI DSS. While most companies are aware of PCI, many are unsure what it means for their businesses. As well, companies that use a third party for clearing and remittance often incorrectly assume that PCI compliance does not apply to them. 

So, what are the risks of noncompliance? Beyond exposing your customers to fraud or identity theft, your business can be held responsible for the credit card company’s losses. In the event of a security breach or lack of PCI compliance, credit card institutions can assess your company higher credit card processing fees and levy fines of up to $500,000—or even bar your company from processing any credit card transactions at all. Keep in mind that this applies to all companies that accept payment by plastic—even if they don’t store any related data. 

The PCI DSS is a multifaceted security standard that includes requirements for security management, policies, procedures, network architecture, software design and other critical protective measures. This comprehensive standard is intended to help organizations proactively protect customer account data. It is a group of principles and accompanying requirements, around which the specific elements of the DSS are organized: 

Build and Maintain a Secure Network

Requirement 1: Install and maintain a firewall configuration to protect cardholder data

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

Protect Cardholder Data

Requirement 3: Protect stored cardholder data

Requirement 4: Encrypt transmission of cardholder data across open, public networks

Maintain a Vulnerability Management Program

Requirement 5: Use and regularly update anti-virus software

Requirement 6: Develop and maintain secure systems and applications

Implement Strong Access Control Measures

Requirement 7: Restrict access to cardholder data by business need-to-know

Requirement 8: Assign a unique ID to each person with computer access

Requirement 9: Restrict physical access to cardholder data

Regularly Monitor and Test Networks

Requirement 10: Track and monitor all access to network resources and cardholder data

Requirement 11: Regularly test security systems and processes

Maintain an Information Security Policy

Requirement 12: Maintain a policy that addresses information security

Acquirer audits, which can be carried out at any time, cover the 12 areas of mandatory compliance. The failure rate for PCI certification audits is high; according to recent research by VeriSign in “Lessons Learned: Top Reasons for PCI Audit Failures and How to Avoid Them,” fewer than 30 percent of companies pass these examinations on the first try. To learn more and even take a self-assessment questionnaire to evaluate your risk visit: www.pcisecuritystandards.org

Other helpful PCI resources include:

Be sure to download your FREE copy of PCI Compliance For Dummies book.

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