The Payment Card Industry Data Security Standards (PCI DSS) are best practices that apply to all merchants receiving or processing credit/debit card payments. They seek to uphold the integrity of cardholder information.
It’s no secret that data breaches have been on the rise recently, and the financial sector is the most affected. Up to 25 % of malware attacks target financial services. A recent report released by cyber threat intelligence firm, Intsights, reveals a 200% rise in credit card fraud. What are we driving at — the financial sector, particularly the payment card industry, is staring at a looming cyber crisis.
Why? There are two possibilities — it’s either cyber attackers are getting more ferocious, or industry stakeholders are losing their guards or both. In either of the two scenarios, there’s a need to heighten security measures. For organizations that store, transmit, or process credit card information, PCI compliance is the starting point.
Here’s a sneak-peek into the ins and outs of PCI compliance for your Michiana business:
What Are the PCI Non-Compliance Penalties?
First, PCI is a standard, not a federal or state law enforced by the government. Its implementation is purely based on your contract with the payment card brands and acquiring banks.
In case of a PCI violation or breach, the payment card brand penalizes your acquiring bank, depending on the extent of the damage. As expected, the bank will automatically transfer these fines to the merchant in breach. In some cases, the acquiring bank will temporarily suspend you from accepting card payments. Not once or twice have BankCard Groups permanently blocked businesses from using their services due to PCI non-compliance.
Worse still — a PCI DSS violation automatically qualifies your organization to be GDPR non-compliant. That’s because PCI standards define cardholder information as personal data. So, you’re also liable for fines of up to €20,000 ($23,294,00).
The choice is yours: stay non-compliant and risk the repercussions or comply to stay safe and protect your public image. Any reasonable executive would opt for the latter.
What Are the Benefits of PCI Compliance for Your Michiana Organization? As pointed out earlier, the Standards provide guidelines for safeguarding cardholder information. The only way to achieve this is by heightening security measures.
Compliance, therefore, essentially means that you will be protecting your systems from breaches and intrusion. With enhanced cybersecurity, you’re limiting chances of successful attacks — and by extension, consequent financial losses and reputational damages.
On the surface, PCI compliance may seem expensive and too time-consuming. Well, not until you consider the option of non-compliance.
How Can Your Michiana Business Stay PCI Compliant? In total, there are twelve requirements stipulated in the PCI DSS. We have summarized the twelve into six primary control objectives:
- You Must Have a Secure Network: All your logins must be unique. Do not use generic passcodes supplied by the vendors. Install and regularly update firewalls around your systems.
- You Must Safeguard Cardholder Credentials in Your Company’s Possession: If you have to process such data via public/open networks, then you should encrypt them.
- You Must Design and Implement a Reliable Vulnerability Management Program: Always assume that you are susceptible to a breach. Implement and maintain the latest antivirus software.
- You Must Deploy Robust Access Controls: Assign unique IDs to every worker with access to cardholder information so it’s easier to monitor their access attempts and login activities. Also, they should only access cardholder data when there’s a need-to-know.
- Regularly Monitor and Test Your Systems: You must occasionally conduct penetration tests on your security systems to gauge their reliability.
- You Must Have Well-Thought-Out Security Information Policies and Procedures to guide all staff handling card payments.
Looking for a Reliable IT Partner to Help You With PCI Compliance?
A recent survey by Verizon tested several organizations for interim PCI compliance. 47.5% of the firms did not meet most of the requirements, despite being confident in their efforts. Imagine if it was a real compliance audit.
Do not let PCI non-compliance tarnish your good reputation or cost you a fortune. Since 1997, businesses in Michiana, West Michigan, Kalamazoo, Grand Rapids, and South Bend have relied on our PCI and other compliance services.