Financial data is one of the most sought pieces of information in the darknet marketplaces. As a result, merchants handling it are prime targets for cyberattacks. Where, five major credit card companies outlined the security guidelines to combat this situation.
This is known as PCI DSS, which aimed to tighten the card-processing ecosystem against various vulnerabilities. For organisations looking at how to protect cardholder data, it’s an essential document. At first glance, it can be a bit difficult to wrap your head around.
Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) is an operational requirement for cardholder’s data protection. The standard applies to all entities that store, process, or transfer financial customer data.
Obtaining this certificate can be costly as it requires yearly certification. This can also include additional lines in the budget for people training, onsite audits, required remediation to hardware and software, etc.
The primary purpose of PCI DSS is to provide an international framework to establish secure cardholder data handling mechanisms, these are classified into 6 categories:
Each category governs vital security controls of payment data protection. The highest security standards can’t be achieved if at least one of the categories is neglected. Each of them supplements the remaining one, creating a solid foundation for users’ financial data security.
PCI DSS compliance requirements apply to all companies involved in storing, processing, and transmitting credit card information. For instance, online shopping your bank, merchant’s bank, and website’s payment technology provider are all subject to PCI DSS regulation.
PCI DSS covers all merchants, credit card issuing banks, processors, intermediaries, developers, and other involved parties. Its purpose is to make sure that there are no weak links in the system that could be exploited. A rule of thumb is – during your line of work you come into contact with credit card information, you’re probably regulated by PCI DSS.
The compliance is enforced by the major credit card payment brands that established the Payment Card Industry Security Standards Council:
Fines are the primary risk if your organisation is found to be non-compliant with PCI DSS requirements. Depending on the scope and violation’s severity, they can vary from $5,000 to $500,000 per month. Fines can also increase depending on the length of non-compliance time which increases the total amount.
Each card organisation involved in the PCI DSS guidelines has its separate compliance validation requirements. Compliance for American Express might have different requirements from MasterCard even though they both follow the same PCI DSS guidelines. Non-compliance to a specific brand’s set of rules may impose additional fines. For instance, the merchant is held responsible for covering all card re-issuance and remediation expenses after the data breach. Even if the merchant survives after such a financial blow, they still risk getting their privileges revoked.
The requirements set by the PCI SSC are both operational and technical, and the core focus of these rules is always to protect cardholder data. The 12 requirements of PCI DSS are:
Complying with PCI Security Standards seems like a daunting task, as the standards and issues is a lot to handle for large organisations, let alone for smaller companies. However, compliance is becoming more important and can be easy to follow if you have the right tools.
According to PCI SSC, there are major benefits of compliance, especially considering that failure to comply may result in serious and long-term consequences. For example:
PCI SSC also points to potentially unfortunate results of failing to meet PCI Compliance. After working to build your brand and secure customers, don’t take a chance with their sensitive information. By meeting PCI Compliance, you are protecting your customers so they can continue to be your customers. Possible results of PCI Non-Compliance include: