Understand how payment card industry data security standards affect your business
As more businesses enter the market, there are certain responsibilities they must uphold. One of the most important is protecting customers' sensitive information. This obligation - if completed correctly - can lead to improved consumer satisfaction and increased profits. One way your business can safeguard client data is adhering to Payment Card Industry Data Security Standards (PCI DSS). These guidelines provide you with an actionable framework to secure vital materials and help organizations avoid data breaches.
A basic 12-step plan
Merchants should be aware that the PCI DSS is not mandatory for business owners. It is an optional guideline for companies. However failing to follow the requirements could lead to costly penalties in the event of fraud or cyber security issues. Furthermore, customers tend to trust businesses that have their best interests at heart and are willing to take the necessary steps to protect their data.
Although the DSS is updated and re-released on a regular basis, there are 12 core tenants of the PCI guideline. They are:
- Install and maintain a firewall configuration to protect cardholder data.
- Do not use vendor-supplied defaults for system passwords and other security parameters.
- Protect stored cardholder data.
- Encrypt transmission of cardholder data across open, public networks.
- Use and regularly update anti-virus software or programs.
- Develop and maintain secure systems and applications.
- Restrict access to cardholder data by business need to know.
- Assign a unique ID to each person with computer access.
- Restrict physical access to cardholder data.
- Track and monitor all access to network resources and cardholder data.
- Regularly test security systems and processes.
- Maintain a policy that addresses information security for all personnel.
The actual requirements add more information to these 12 steps for merchants, but following these basic standards is a good start to protect consumer information.
How merchants can prepare
Becoming PCI compliant can seem like a big step for business owners, but it will be beneficial for their organizations in the long run. To prepare for compliance, there are a couple of steps you can take.
To begin, entrepreneurs should determine their merchant level. Since each company is different - in size and number of customers - they will have their own specific level of strictness for their compliance program. These rankings depend on Visa-transaction volume within the past 12 months and should be verified by an acquiring bank (the one usually connected to your payment processor).
Next, companies should work with a point-of-sale vendor that offers PCI compliance. This way, you can focus on the other important aspects of your business, while and the compliance provider can ensure you are following all necessary requirements. Some companies in the payments and compliance space also incorporate the many facets of protection solutions into bundles, including PCI assistance, that can make life easier for you.
PCI compliance is an important standard merchants should follow in order to protect valuable consumer information as well as their company's reputation. By implementing the 12 basic steps, figuring out their merchant level and working with a third-party compliance expert, business owners can remain competitive in their industry and secure crucial data from potential breach.