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PCI Compliance is a subset of data security standards that go along with the Payment Card Industry. It has specific guidelines on how to handle cardholder information (credit cards, debit cards, etc.). The standards are not law, but they are heavily enforced by credit card processing companies and banks. Penalties for non-compliance can be severe, so it’s important to take this seriously. Failure to do so can result in fines, loss of ability to accept credit cards, up to even having your whole business shutdown. It is a scary thing for a business owner so it’s really important that you understand what this entails and how you can be compliant.
Protecting cardholder data is a daunting task for any business. Data breaches are an everyday thing now, and the costs of preventing them are expensive. To help, this guide has been created to educate businesses on how to best protect themselves in minimizing risk when it comes to cardholder data protection.
Who needs to be PCI Compliant?
Any merchant that stores, processes, or transmits payment card data must be PCI Compliant. This includes both physical and digital transactions. There are different levels of compliance that businesses can achieve, but all businesses who wish to accept payment cards must reach some level of compliance.
What are the PCI Standards?
There are twelve PCI Data Security Standards (DSS) that businesses need to adhere to to maintain compliance. They go over specific guidelines such as handling cardholder data, using and managing firewalls, using strong passwords and encryption, patching applications, and more.
What happens if you don’t become compliant?
When a business fails to become PCI Compliant, it can result in severe consequences. Most banks and credit card companies will not do business with you if you are not compliant. This can result in fines, loss of credit card processing abilities, or even your whole business being shutdown.
Does PCI only apply to ecommerce sites?
No, PCI Compliance applies to all businesses who store, process or transmit payment card data including physical and digital transactions.
What is the impact on ecommerce businesses?
Merchants that are not compliant with PCI standards are assessed annual fees to continue doing business. If they do not pay, then they cannot accept credit or debit cards. This includes any business that has a website where products are bought and sold, whether it’s an online store or wholesaler.
What kind of fines and penalties can you get for not complying?
Fines and penalties depend on the level of non-compliance, but they start at $5,000 per month and go up from there depending on the severity of the issue. It is important to note that if a company fails to be in compliance with security standards, the company is also in jeopardy of losing its merchant account status.
How to become PCI Compliant?
To be PCI compliant, you must first complete a Self-Assessment Questionnaire (SAQ) and then follow an Information Security Policy. Businesses can achieve different levels of compliance depending on their size and the amount of cardholder data they process.
What is a Self-Assessment Questionnaire?
A Self-Assessment Questionnaire is a document that business owners complete to help identify where they need to improve their security posture to be PCI compliant. The questionnaire covers all twelve PCI Data Security Standards and considers things like how many systems are in place, the volume of transactions, types of payment processing and more.
What does Information Security Policy entail?
It is important to have a security policy that helps manage the process for complying with PCI standards. This includes steps such as using strong passwords, encrypting data on your servers, and securing wireless networks.
What is the process of becoming PCI compliant?
The first step to becoming PCI compliant is completing a Self-Assessment Questionnaire (SAQ) and then following an Information Security Policy. From there, businesses need to set up regular security monitoring and vulnerability testing as well as install any software updates that are required.
What if I’m not sure where to start?
If you’re not sure where to start, the PCI Security Standards Council has a number of resources that can help. This includes an overview of the standards, guidelines for completing an SAQ, and a list of qualified assessors.
Becoming PCI compliant is essential for any business that processes, transmits, or stores payment card data. The twelve PCI Data Security Standards (DSS) provide a framework for businesses to follow in order to maintain compliance. Fines and penalties for not being compliant can be severe, so it is important to take the necessary steps to protect your business.
You may also like: PCI DSS Compliance: 12 Requirements
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