Payment Card Industry (PCI) Data Security Standards (DSS) refer to a set of standards that must be followed by big and small businesses alike when accepting, storing, processing and transmitting customers’ credit card information. To be compliant with PCI standards, all business owners, including online retailers, should adhere to 12 PCI compliance requirements for best security practices.
These requirements are in place to protect not only their businesses but also their customers’ privacy.
The following are the requirements for PCI compliance:
- Install and maintain a firewall configuration to protect cardholder data
- Do not use vendor-supplied defaults for system passwords and other security parameters. Always change vendor-supplied defaults before installing a system on your network
- Protect stored cardholder data
- Encrypt transmission of cardholder data across open, public networks. Use strong cryptography and security protocols
- Use and regularly update antivirus software. Make sure that your antivirus software remains current and actively running
- Develop and maintain security systems and applications
- Restrict access to cardholder data by business employees on a need-to-know basis only
- 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
Adhering to the above PCI compliance requirements helps businesses to clarify the steps to take in order to maintain a secure payment environment. PCI compliance should be part of an ongoing process of improving security of data, not just a one-time effort. It is useful to continue to strive to remain compliant with the PCI DSS requirements.
There are three core areas of focus for this: Assess, remediate and report.
Assess: Assessing is taking an inventory of your IT assets and the way in which you process your customers’ card payment details. The purpose of this is to pinpoint any vulnerabilities that could expose the cardholder to risk.
If you're a small business owner and not required to perform on-site assessment to meet PCI DSS compliance, then you may find it useful to complete the Self Assessment Questionnaire (SAQ), to analyse your PCI DSS compliance.
Remediate: Remediation is the process by which vulnerabilities that have been found are corrected or fixed. The process includes scanning your network to spot vulnerabilities, and then classifying and ranking these vulnerabilities so that the most serious are fixed first.
This is followed by applying fixes and changes to your processes and workflow, and rescanning to make sure that the vulnerabilities have been fixed.
Report: Reporting is another of the PCI compliance requirements that ensures your business is compliant on a continuing basis. You are required to submit scan reports to your acquiring bank and payment brands that you have business relationships.
The report should be done once every three months and should be completed by an Approved Scanning Vendor (ASV) assigned by the PCI Security Standard Council (PCI SSC).
Through ongoing commitment to meet PCI compliance requirements, you'll be able to offer security for your customers. If you're operating a large business, it is important that you carry out an on-site assessment once a year; this on-site assessment must be completed by a Qualified Security Assessor (QSA), also assigned by the PCI SSC. By remaining compliant, you can improve your business processes and demonstrate your business professionalism and commitment to client data security.