PCI DSS stands for Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard is a set of security standards established in 2004. The purpose of this standard is to establish norms that protect debit and credit card transactions from fraud and theft. It enables implementation of card data security by making it mandatory for a company that implements it to have best practices such as use of anti-virus software, data encryption and firewall installation.
What is PCI DSS?
It is not a legal authority but is a must to implement for companies that are accepting payment via debit or credit cards. Doing this will help them to enhance their business operations, sales and also to build trust in their brand. They are clearly showing to customers and partners alike that they have the capacity to safeguard data and information and that it is safe to transact with.
This standard was established by five companies – American Express, Visa, JCB International, MasterCard and Discover Financial Services. The body that governs this standard is the Payment Card Industry Security Standards Council (PCI SSC).
Why is it Required?
PCI DSS certification shows that your brand has more trust, reliability, security at the customer front and it gives it protection from malicious online actors.
Companies that do not implement PCI DSS standards will get into data breach problems that will have a severe negative impact on their brand image and reputation. If such a breach were to happen when accepting payment from a customer’s card, the company will have to pay fines to payment card issuers and can be subject to lawsuits.
There are so many ways in which cardholder data can be compromised when you do not implement PCI DSS. Some examples are hacking a company’s wireless or wired network, bad quality card reader, hidden camera that records data authentication etc.
Sales will come down drastically and reputation will be severely damaged. Companies who have faced such issues land up paying heavily to implement PCI DSS certification and there have been may who have stopped according payment by card, turning back to only cash transactions which has affected their business.
PCI DSS Standard
This standard aim is to improve security of card payment transactions and it is implemented, managed by the independent body PCI SSC. This standard is applicable for any company big, medium or small which accepts, transmits and stores customer’s debit or credit card data. In order for a company to be PCI DSS compliant, it must implement the following:
- Use firewalls to protect the systems
- Set strong passwords and required setting, instead of opting for default ones
- Implement stringent security measures using encryption to protect cardholder data in public network
- Install latest antivirus software for protection against malicious software and hacker and update it regularly
- If patches have arrived for any software system learn about it and update the system with it
- Set up method for protecting cardholder data
- Allow access to only that portion of cardholder data as is only required for the company to process the transaction
- Every person accessing a system in the company must be given a unique id
- Physical access to the systems where cardholder data is stored must be restricted
- Carry out system vulnerability scans
- Carry out various types of penetration tests to find out system weaknesses
- Implement proper documentation for all activities and carry out risk assessment
Who All Should Use This Standard?
Any company small, medium or large scale, be it a global enterprise or just a start-up but dealing with card payment should implement this standard because they are dealing with sensitive cardholder data. It is not enough to implement the PCI DSS standard just once, it must be validated annually.
Benefits Of The Standard
- It requires that firewalls are created, data is encrypted and an information security management system is put in place which helps to prevent data breach.
- Through it, the public is informed that your company takes information security as a serious issue so they will trust it and will feel confident in using your services.
- Companies implementing it show that their security standards are on par with global standards.
- It reduces the risk of data breach by protecting cardholder’s data and gives them the confidence to use card payments as a means of conducting transactions.
- Fines and penalties that have to be paid by companies that don’t implement the standard can be avoided.
- Implements standards that can be followed by various agencies.
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