All service providers and merchants who transmit and process cardholder data need to comply with the data security standards of the payment card industry. People often refer to these standards using the acronyms “PCI” and “DSS.” While the process of meeting the requirements can seem complex and overwhelming, never fear. We’re here to give you a brief guide to being in PCI compliance.
PCI Compliance and Security Challenges for Merchants
Reputable merchants want to be in compliance with the credit card industry’s security standards. They want their customers to know that sensitive information is secure with them. In other words, adhering to these standards helps to build trust between them and their customers.
PCI compliance is not required by law. However, it is mandated by major credit card holders. Additionally, merchants who fail to be in compliance could face fines and even lawsuits if their security standards are below par.
All the same, some service providers and merchants do not follow these industry security standards to the letter. This is mostly due to a lack of awareness. But there are other problems, too.
We list some of those challenges here.
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Failure to Test Data Systems Regularly
Data security is about more than just antivirus software, firewalls, and encryption. It is also about monitoring, logging, identity management, and configuration maintenance.
That’s why it is so important to keep to a schedule of regular testing. One of the chief requirements of PCI compliance is carrying out regular tests. With regular testing, a merchant can more easily identify security issues that might otherwise go unaddressed.
Choosing an Inappropriate SAQ Form
Every year, merchants must complete a self-assessment questionnaire, or SAQ, in order to remain in PCI compliance.
There are nine different versions of the questionnaire. The version you need to complete depends on how your business handles credit card data. Your answers to the questions on the form allow you to determine where your business might have security risks.
Each merchant must pass the SAQ that’s appropriate for their business in order to remain in PCI compliance.
Not Adhering to Encryption Standards
The PCI data security standards give detailed requirements about protecting stored cardholder data. To learn more about these requirements, refer to the PCI compliance guide at this link.
One of the chief requirements for being in compliance is that the customer’s primary account number needs to be unreadable. This remains the case whether that information is stored digitally or in another form.
It is the merchant’s responsibility, therefore, to implement encryption standards. This can be difficult for some merchants, especially if they are still using an older system.
Failing to Define the Payment Environment Scope
Another issue that some merchants face is that they inaccurately define the payment environment scope for their PCI certification. This is understandable, as there are numerous components that go into a single credit card transaction. Therefore, a merchant could be unaware of exactly which components they are responsible for.
Make PCI Compliance Your Goal
PCI compliance is a starting point for having high security standards. Therefore, if you process customers’ payments by credit card, then also make sure to have technically knowledgeable team members. These tech-savvy individuals can guide your organization into PCI compliance.