What Are the 6 Major Requirements for PCI Compliance?
PCI compliance is required by credit card companies to keep their transactions secure. PCI compliance is not required by law. Instead, it is a type of self-regulation by the credit card industry. Requirements are set by the Payment Card Industry Security Standards Council, which is an independent entity created by credit card companies.
Why Is PCI Compliance Important?
Since it isn’t a legal requirement, you can’t be charged with a crime or jailed for non-compliance. However, it could cause serious harm to your customers and your business. If there’s a data breach, you could be held responsible for all fraudulent charges, card reissue fees, and the cost of monitoring or fraud prevention related to the breach.
It doesn’t stop there. You can be charged with fines and lose your merchant account. If you lose your merchant account, your business can no longer process credit card transactions.
6 PCI Compliance Objectives
What are the six requirements for PCI compliance?
- Build and maintain a secure network and systems
- Protect cardholder data
- Maintain a vulnerability management program
- Implement strong access control measures
- Routinely monitor and test networks
- Create and maintain an information security policy
Build and maintain a secure network and systems
One way to build and maintain a secure network is through firewall configuration, which should be updated every six months. It’s also important not to use vendor-supplied default for parameters and passwords.
Protect cardholder data
Storage of cardholder data should be avoided whenever possible. Any data that is stored must be unreadable, and all transmissions of sensitive data over open public networks should be adequately encrypted.
Maintain a vulnerability management program
The business is responsible for identifying and managing vulnerabilities. Antivirus software should be installed and regularly updated. Developers should be trained to identify and mitigate coding vulnerabilities. Any public-facing web application must be tested using application security tools. A web application firewall must be installed.
Implement strong access control measures
Businesses and employees should only have access to the minimum information needed to carry out their job. System components should be restricted to those who have authorized access.
Multi-factor identification should be required for access. This prevents cybercriminals from accessing data with a password only, and it tracks the actions of the specific user in the system.
Physical access to data should also be restricted and monitored. Access data must be retained for 90 days, unless excluded by law. This includes video monitoring and access logs.
Routinely monitor and test networks
Access logs should tie all actions to a speciifc user. This data must be retained for one year. It must be backed up with a secure centralized server to prevent data from being deleted. The logs must be checked daily to identify any suspicious activity.
Businesses should routinely check for new vulnerabilities. This includes searching for unauthorized access points. File monitoring systems should send an alert with any unusual activity.
Create and maintain an information security policy
The information security policy must include which employees can use which devices and clearly specify the location of these devices. It must also describe the policies and procedures for protecting cardholder information.
PCI Compliance Levels
The level of PCI compliance you will need to meet is based on your card transaction volume over a 12-month period. The levels range from 1 to 4, with level 1 having the highest compliance requirements. If you experience a data breach, your business may be escalated to a higher compliance level. Most small businesses will fall under level 4, which means they process under 1 million credit card transactions annually.
Do You Need Managed IT Services for PCI Compliance?
There’s no requirement to use managed IT services for PCI compliance. However, it’s often the simplest way to ensure that your company is in compliance. Compliance is an ongoing process, and the specific requirements often require technical knowledge. You can use IT services for all your cybersecurity and compliance needs, or select the specific areas you need help with. It can give you peace of mind and free up your time to focus on other aspects of your business.