What Businesses Need To Follow To Be Compliant With PCI DSS?

The compliance check Payment Card Industry Data Security Standards is abbreviated as PCI DSS. This security standard is made to protect the information of the cardholders from external harm. The check includes card information about the thefts which occur and whether it occurred within the organization or from some external forces. All the organizations which deal with debit, credit and ATM cards need to comply with PCI DSS as it is mandatory as defined by the PCI Security Council. The council includes industries like Master Card, Visa, and American Express.

In order to establish compliance to PCI DSS, it has listed out 12 major requirements and 2 special requirements which are given in their annexure which when is enforced in the organization will strengthen the security of the cardholder information that the organization handles. The organizations need to adhere to all the conditions as outlined by the requirements in order to be PCI compliant in terms of network and resource security.

The merchants who deal with Payment Cards must have compliance to PCI-DSS as the threats are growing and the outcome of non-compliance might be dangerous and disastrous to the finance and reputation of the organization. Along with compliance to PCI-DSS, which is a very lengthy and tough task, the organizations are required to prove their organization’s compliance with it too. Moreover, the audit of PCI-DSS is being performed on either with a Qualified Security Assessor or via the set of questionnaires which are external to the organization.

A merchant who accepts payment cards are required to be compliant with the PCI Data Security Standard and if you are one, then you can find out your exact compliance requirements only from your particular payment brand or acquirer. But before that, make sure that you obtain background information and a general understanding of what you will need to do from the information and links given below.

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There are some PCI DSS common-sense steps which need to be followed for the mirror security best practices. The check involves three steps which are needed to be adhered for PCI DSS compliance and this is not a single event, but a continuous and ongoing process.

1. At first, you need to assess which means identify cardholder data, take an inventory of all your IT assets and then the business processes for payment card processing, and analyze them for any vulnerabilities which could be present and that could expose cardholder data.

2. Secondly, you need to remediate which means to fix vulnerabilities and not to store cardholder data unless you need it.

3. Thirdly, you need to report which involves compilation and submission of required remediation validation records (if applicable), and then submitting compliance reports to the acquiring bank and card brands you do business with.

What are the Levels of PCI DSS Compliance?

A business needs to establish and maintain a certain set of security requirements in order to meet the PCI compliant payment levels. The primary aim of this compliance is the protection of customer identity and preserving their payment details.

The level of compliance a business must maintain depends on the type and number of transactions completed in a year and the size of the business. And based on the type and amount of transactions completed on an annual basis, merchants belong to the following four levels of PCI compliance:

Level 1: Merchants processing more than 6 million transactions each year.

Level 2: Merchants processing card transactions between 1-6 million annually.

Level 3: Merchants processing 20,000 to 1 million transactions annually.

Level 4: Merchants processing 20,000 or fewer transactions per year.

Mostly, small businesses that process less than 1 million card transactions with less than 20,000 e-commerce transactions each year are placed in Level 4. Moreover, if the number of credit card transactions exceeds the Level 4 standards, the business has to follow higher level compliances.

Another important thing to keep in mind is how the transactions are processed in the company. Compliance requirements change based on the nature of processing modes used by merchants like mail order/telephone order transactions, point of sale transactions (where a swipe device is used), e-commerce or web transactions, and a combination of these.

What are the Requirements of PCI DSS Compliance?

It becomes an obligation for the merchant to securely store and process customer data if the business accepts payments from credit or debit cards. Established and overviewed by the PCI Security Standards Council, the PCI DSS compliance sets certain requirements to detect, prevent, and react to security breaches concerning cardholder data. The main aim of these standards is to protect businesses and their customers from threatening payment frauds which could harm their business and reputation.

Complying to PCI DSS becomes even more critical for small and medium business enterprises. Although these standards are often overlooked, businesses must realize the importance of being PCI DSS compliant.

The major requirement of PCI compliance is that a business must protect others' payment information as they would protect their own. Risks like mistakenly broadcasting credit card info or losing papers with personal information of customers can't be taken. It is a must for every business to protect the transaction history, account details, and the personal details of their customers. PCI DSS compliance guidelines simply help businesses adhere to these vigilant business practices and protect their customers to the maximum extent possible.

You can download their “Getting Started Guide and/or Quick Reference Guide” for more information on this and if you want to know, what your specific compliance requirements are, then you need to check with your card brand compliance program.

Published on May 21, 2019
Harshit Agarwal
Written by Harshit Agarwal
Harshit Agarwal is co-founder and CEO of Appknox, a mobile security suite that helps Enterprises and Financial institutions to automate mobile security. Over the last 6 years, Harshit has worked with over 300+ businesses ranging from top financial institutions to Fortune 500 companies to set up security practices helping organisations secure their mobile applications and speed up the time for security testing.


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