PCI compliance can be daunting, but if you are a business accepting credit card payments, there’s no way around it. Some business owners think that with the proper gateway, PCI compliance is no longer necessary. Unfortunately, that is not the case. PCI compliance mostly takes place within your server system, and it provides guidelines for how you store and handle sensitive customer information, such as credit card numbers, CCVs, and others.
What is the PCI DSS?
PCI DSS stands for Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard. It was first introduced about 10 years ago, and it is set of rules that is meant to protect the data of the customer during a transaction. Since the dawn of online shopping, security has been a major concern, and as technology has advanced, and hacker groups have become more sophisticated, security standards have become more important than ever.
Compliance with PCI standards is universally relevant, for businesses of all sizes, whether they accept card payments online or offline. There are several compliance levels, and they correspond to the size of your business. For online businesses, the regulations are mandatory, and failure to comply can mean fines and the revocation of credit card processing capabilities.
A common misconception should be addressed at this point. Some business owners think that if they do not store payment information, they do not have to be PCI compliant. This is not true. Not storing payment information is just a part of PCI compliance. It is also important to handle the information correctly and to ensure its safe transfer. For example, if data is transmitted through an unencrypted channel, or over an open network, it has the potential to be compromised and stolen.
Becoming PCI compliant
One of the easiest ways to meet a big part of your compliance duties is to rent a server from a third party hosting provider that is already PCI DSS compliant. However, if you have your own server in-house, then you may have to make some changes yourself. Some of the necessary measures include:
- A secure business network
- Cardholder data protection
- Vulnerability management programs
- Strong access control measures
- Regular monitoring and testing of the business network
- An information security focused policy
The compliance can be significantly simplified by not storing any payment information, although, as mentioned before, this is not always enough. Should you require more information, there is a set of guidelines on the PCI Council’s website which cover the requirements in more detail.
PCI compliance is definitely worth the investment. A data breach can do significant damage to your company’s reputation, and it can lead to thousands of dollars of losses for both you and your customers. The best course of action is to ensure that all your systems are secured and that customer data is safe.
For more information on how to become PCI compliant, or to open a merchant account, please visit Charge.com.