What is PCI DSS?

American Express, Discover, JCB, Mastercard, and Visa have joined forces in 2006 and created the Payment Card Industry Security Standards Council (PCI SSC) to enforce and manage security standards for companies that handle credit card data. The main goal was to improve the safety of consumer data, as well as their trust in the payment ecosystem.

The PCI standards are for organizations that handle credit card payments (accepts, processes and stores credit card payments and data). To summarize, PCI DSS compliance involves three main things:

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  • Taking care of the entry of credit card data from customers, in a way that sensitive card details are gathered and transmitted securely
  • Secured data storage, which is outlined in the 12 security domains of the PCI standard, such as encryption, ongoing monitoring, as well as security testing of access to card data
  • Annual validation of the required security controls, which can involve forms, questionnaires, external vulnerability scanning services, and 3rd party audits

Although the PCI SSC has no legal authority to compel compliance, not only is it a strict requirement for any company that processes credit or debit card transactions but PCI certification is also considered the best way to protect sensitive data and information, which further help businesses build and fortify long-lasting and trusting relationships with their customers.

PCI DSS certification

A successful data breach that exposes sensitive customer information can have severe repercussions on an organization. This may include fines from payment card issuers, lawsuits, loss of profits and a heavily damaged reputation. Not only that but the company may also have to cease accepting credit card transactions or be forced to pay higher subsequent charges than the initial cost of security compliance. That said, the investment in PCI security procedures proves to go a very long way in ensuring that other aspects of a business are safeguarded from cybercriminals.

PCI certification ensures the protection of card data through a set of requirements implemented by the PCI SSC. These include a few commonly known best practices, such as installation and use of free antivirus and firewall like Comodo Internet Security (CIS), as well as the encryption of data transmissions. What's more, companies must also restrict ingress to cardholder data and monitor access to network resources.

PCI DSS adherence

Take a closer look at the six main requirements of the PCI standard and some tips on how you can successfully abide by them.

Building and maintaining a secure network

Apart from installing and maintaining free antivirus and firewall configuration to protect cardholder data, your company should also come up with its own firewall configuration policy and develop a configuration test procedure.

System passwords and other security parameters should not come from vendor-supplied defaults. This means creating, preserving and updating your system passwords with unique and secure combinations, instead of something that a software vendor might already have in place upon purchase.

Protecting cardholder data

A PCI-compliant hosting provider should deliver multiple layers of defense and a secure data protection model, which integrates physical and virtual security methods for companies that store cardholder data.

Your company should also encrypt the transmission of cardholder data across open, public networks. As an added security measure, sensitive authentication data, such as card validation codes or PIN numbers, must never be stored after authorization, even if they're already encrypted.

Maintaining a vulnerability management program

Your free antivirus and firewall need to be frequently updated to protect against the most recently developed malware. Furthermore, keep on developing and maintaining secure systems and applications, which includes discovering newly identified security vulnerabilities via alert systems.

Carrying out strong access control measures

Restrict access to cardholder data by business need-to-know. Capping the number of personnel that has a way into cardholder data will minimize the chances of a security breach.

Designate a unique ID to each person with computer access as well. They should follow best practices, such as password encryption, authorization, authentication, password updates every 30 days, log-in time limits, and more.

If your data is hosted in an off-site data center, on the other hand, your data center provider should have limited personnel with access to sensitive information. PCI-compliant data centers should have full monitoring, as well as surveillance cameras and entry authentication to ensure a secure environment.

Tracking and monitoring entry to network resources and cardholder data

Take advantage of logging systems, which can track user activity and stored archives to help your hosting provider identify the cause in the event of a security breach or other concerns.

Test security systems and processes habitually to ensure that your customers' cardholder data is safe at all times.

The cost of noncompliance, both in monetary and reputational terms, should be enough to persuade any business owner to take data security seriously. As such, consider using Comodo Internet Security to guard your system against dangerous viruses and other malwares. We make sure to secure business-oriented data to prevent security breaches from occurring.

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