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If your customers use credit and debit cards to make payments, you must comply with the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standards (PCI DSS) to guarantee data security. The standards were established by debit and credit card providers, including MasterCard and Visa.

The requirements that will help you comply with the PCI DSS standards fully are contained in a 100-page document. While the process may appear overwhelming, the processes are simplified to enable compliance without much hassle. 

Understanding PCI DSS

PCI DSS is a regulation that targets all the institutions that store and process sensitive information from their customers. It was established in the 2000s to curb the rising cases of cyberattacks that were occasioned by the rise of technology. Numerous organizations and E-Commerce centers progressively adopted the use of technology in their operation, favoring non-cash payment options.

While this was a positive development for all the stakeholders, it exposed the customers’ data to unauthorized access. Whenever a payment is made, the organization handles and processes personally identifiable data of the customer. This data is stored in the organization’s database, and it can be misused if adequate security systems are not instituted.

As a result, the PCI Security Standards Council (PCI SSC) has developed guidelines that every institution should follow to ensure PCI DSS compliance. The process involves the development of stringent measures that guarantee the security of the data collected by your organization.

Is Your Business Ready for PCI DSS Compliance?

PCI DSS compliance is necessary if you are handling any sensitive information. But how will you prepare for the compliance process?

Well, there are several crucial steps that you should implement to ready yourself for the compliance process. All these processes are aimed at ensuring that you have mechanisms that will block all cybercriminal activities. They include:

  • Prepare a Catalogue for Your Data. You need to establish the scope of your data environment. This step is crucial since it influences the formulation of security policies in your organization. To ensure that you safeguard all your data, you should include all the networks that are used in receiving, processing, and storing the data. This may include the Internet of Things (IoT) such as routers, computers, cellular devices, and wireless networks. Also, you must document your terminal and point-of-service systems for a more inclusive security approach.
  • Diagram the Data Flow in Your Organization. It’s necessary that you diagrammatically indicate the flow of data in your organization to help in the tracing of weak links that can be targeted by cybercriminals. You should include all the networks applied, the staff handling the data, and all the machines that store the data. This helps in ensuring that every point-of-contact of the data is safeguarded against cyberattacks.
  • Formulate Policies and Procedures. PCI DSS requires that you develop various controls that can detect and prevent unauthorized access to the data. Some of the measures that you can institute include the installation of antivirus software, encryption techniques, firewalls, network segregation, and the use of strong passwords to protect your data.
  • Continuous Monitoring of Your Data Security Environment. Cybercriminals can be cunning, and you are obliged to ensure that your system is continually protected against any threat. You can achieve this by conducting a continuous risk assessment and management practices. While this can be expensive and overwhelming, there are several automated applications that you can use to guarantee the safety of your data. All these systems detect anomalies and relay real-time reports that help to block the threats. To further increase your chances of success, you can involve internal and external Qualified Security Assessors (QSAs) PCI auditors to audit the efficiency of your security systems.

Once you fulfill all these requirements, you will be ready for PCI DSS compliance certification. The PCI CSS will send representatives to access your readiness to be certified. If they’re satisfied with the measures that you’ve put place, they will certainly ward you the certification.

What Organizations Are To Be Impacted By PCI DSS?

The process differs depending on the size of your company and the scope of your Cardholder Data Environment (CDE). The size of your organization is determined by the number of visa payment activities recorded over the past year. The classification is as follows:

  • Level 1. This is any business that transacts more than 6 million Visa payments per year. This category has a higher risk of cyberattacks
  • Level 2. These are businesses that process 1-6 million visa payments per year
  • Level 3. Organizations that process 20,000 to one million Visa payments fall under this category
  • Level 4. These are all the businesses that transact less than 20,000 Visa payments annually

The PCI CSS will guide you on the classification of your business and the certification requirements specific to you.

Protecting your sensitive data is necessary to boost the confidence of your clients. The best way to achieve this is by complying with PCI DSS requirements. Read through this article to understand what is required to get the certification.

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