Attaining PCI compliance is an essential part of growing your online business. Without it, you open yourself up to fines, litigation, and data theft. The Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) was put forth by the five major credit card companies, and it is meant to reduce the number of costly and highly damaging data breaches. At first, you might feel overwhelmed by the PIC DSS, but there are many resources that can help you gain a solid understanding of the standards, including this short guide.
What does it mean to be PCI compliant?
The PCI DSS regulates the methods and procedures for accepting, storing, processing and transmitting data during a credit card transaction. Companies that rely on online card payments are obligated to prove that they are compliant. There are several levels within the PCI DSS system, and each level has different requirements for compliance. Each level is meant for a different type of business based on sales volume.
In terms of pricing, compliance can range anywhere from $1,000 to $50,000 per year, depending on the size of your business. If you’d like to know if your business is already compliant, and the requirements you need to meet going forward, you can take the PCI DSS Self-Assessment Questionnaire, which is a checklist that can be anywhere from 19 to 87 pages depending on the compliance level you wish to achieve.
The History of the PCI DSS
The PCI DSS was established in 2006, as it was becoming increasingly obvious that the internet was going to play an essential role for businesses. However, many customers were still reticent about using credit cards to make purchases online, due to security issues. This showcased the need for a universal security standard that would protect both customers and businesses from fraud and data breaches.
The five largest credit card brands – MasterCard, Visa, JCB, American Express and Discover – came together and implemented the PCI DSS, ensuring that client data is secure when making purchases over the internet. The PCI Security Standards Council was also established as an independent body that ensures and manages the adherence to these standards. It is also responsible for monitoring threats and improving the industry’s response by updating the standards as technology evolves. However, it’s worth noting here that the credit card companies are still responsible for enforcing the regulation, not the Council.
Becoming PCI compliant
PCI compliance does require some investment, but the benefits outweigh the costs. To start, you will be able to process online card transactions, and you will be safe from liability in case of a data breach. If you however process card payments without being compliant, you will be fined and held liable for any losses. This can lead to loss of reputation and litigation, costing a lot more in the long run than becoming compliant.
For more information on how to become PCI compliant, or to sign up for a merchant account, please go to Charge.com.