What is PCI DSS compliance?
The PCI DSS (Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard) is a set of requirements that all entities that store, process, or transmit payment card information must comply with.
It was launched in 2006 to establish technical and operational standards that businesses must follow to secure and protect cardholder data. The standards are managed by the PCI Security Standards Council, which includes global payments providers including American Express, MasterCard and Visa.
All businesses that handle payment card data – regardless of size – must be PCI DSS compliant.
While becoming PCI DSS compliant can be an arduous process, it also offers several compelling business benefits.
Builds trust with customers
Many consumers don’t fully understand what PCI DSS compliance is, but most are aware that cyber attacks are becoming increasingly common. With several high-profile data breaches and phishing attacks in the media recently, people are starting to think twice about providing their personal and payment information online. Even if they don’t know much about PCI DSS except that it’s a payment standard, the presence of a PCI DSS logo on your website’s payment page gives them confidence that your business takes data security seriously and their transaction is likely to be secure.
Reduces the risk of a data breach
Protecting against data breaches is the main aim of the PCI Data Security Standards. PCI DSS compliant organisations must demonstrate that they meet the following objectives:
- Build and maintain a secure network
- Protect cardholder data
- Maintain a vulnerability management program
- Implement strong access control measures
- Regularly monitor and test networks
- Maintain an information security policy
This includes measures such as the use of firewalls and anti-virus software, encrypting cardholder data during transmission, and implementing strong access control measures. Meeting these requirements means it’s more difficult for hackers to break into an organisation and reduces the amount of sensitive data they can steal.
Helps you avoid fines
Merchants who don’t comply with PCI DSS requirements may be subject to significant fines, higher transaction processing fees, and even expulsion from card programs. Depending on where a data breach occurs and who it affects, governments can also impose penalties. The European Union’s new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) includes provisions for fines up to €20 million or 4% of annual turnover, whichever is higher, when a breach occurs involving the personal data of EU citizens.
Provides a global security standard
The PCI DSS provides a baseline of security requirements that help businesses build stronger security programs and offer a consistent level of protection for consumers. It’s a globally recognised standard that shows customers, suppliers and other partners that your systems are secure and you handle sensitive data appropriately. Compliance with PCI DSS also means your organisation is better prepared to meet additional governance standards such as Sarbanes-Oxley and ISO specifications.
Not sure if your business meets PCI DSS requirements? The PCI Security Standards Council website has a self-assessment questionnaire that lets you check if you comply.
To protect your business’s payment information, you may choose to maintain your own PCI DSS compliance or partner with a Software as a Service (SaaS) vendor or application service provider who ensures their software meets PCI DSS requirements, like Xetta.
Xetta unites people, strategy, process, and technology to enable digital transformation and empower our customers to create a culture of innovation and continuous improvement.