What is PCI DSS? | Requirements of PCI DSS Compliance

The current times are a part of the digital age – almost everything is online, from connecting with others to shopping and paying online. One of the everyday activities that have turned digital is payments. The majority of people these days pay online through their cards. This, unfortunately, has also led to an increase in cases of data theft and malicious online attacks. In lieu of that, companies holding sensitive information of cardholders are asked to comply with PCI-DSS.

Modern technology has given rise to new services, and with them, the old has been gradually disrupted. The accessibility of digital marketing trends is allowing many businesses of all sizes to recognise mobile and data while redesigning their business models in a ‘cloud first’ manner. This results in the implementation of a new ‘pay-as-you-go’ business model that allows for effectiveness, low-cost speed to expand, and the development of a new, richer customer service.

PCI DSS Compliant

PCI-DSS stands for Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard. It is a compliance standard set by an independent body comprising of major payment processing and card companies like Visa, Mastercard, American Express. It is mainly managed by PCI SSC (Security Standards Council). PCI DSS ensures that companies that store, process, and transmit card information follow certain set of secure practices by providing a checklist of standards.

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PCI DSS audit report targets CDE (Cardholder Data Environment) security as provided by the participant organization. So, it is also a certificate of trust and credibility.

What are the PCI SSC standards?

To safeguard the online card payment mechanism, PCI SSC have rolled out certain mechanisms to adhere to. All the organizations that touch base with card holder information must comply with these standards and must follow the given frameworks. PCI SSC also provides support in case of need, having set resources for detection and resolution. They also have public resources like list of ASVs (Approved Scanning Vendors), QSAs (Qualified Security Assessors) and Payment Application QSAs for the benefit of all. There are tools like self-assessment questionnaires for organizations to assess their current compliance state and further meet the standards of PCI DSS.

The 12 golden rules

There are 12 requirements for PCI DSS compliance. So, if you want your organization to be PCI DSS certified, you must fulfil these 12 requirements. Take note:

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PCI DSS requirements
  1. Active Firewalls

Firewalls are the first in the line of defence. They block foreign access and protect sensitive data. Firewalls automatically eliminate primal attacks on the system. Most of the systems have in-built firewall systems, which need to be active all the time. So, this basic function is a requirement by PCI DSS.

  1. Proper Protections

Passwords are quite basic to security and a lot of point-of-sale systems require passwords. Organizations need to keep a list of all devices and software that need a password to comply with the guidelines. In addition to this, basic precautions like regularly changing password and keeping a smart password should be implemented.

  1. Safeguarding Cardholder Data

Protecting cardholder data is central to PCI DSS compliance. A way to this is to ensure that all data is encrypted through algorithms with the help of encryption keys. These encryption keys need to be encrypted as well for dual security. Additionally, there must be recurrent scanning of PAN (primary account numbers) to detect any unencrypted data.

  1. Encryption of Data

All transmitted cardholder data needs to be encrypted – even if they are sent to known locations. In addition to this, account numbers and card information should not be sent to unknown destinations.

  1. Anti-virus Usage
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Anti-virus is an additional security layer, which detects patches in security and alerts of breaches. The anti-virus itself should be regularly updated.

  1. Up-to-date Software

It is a general good practice to keep all software updated as per latest versions. This ensures that no bugs or defects enter through outdated or faulty software. At least all the software that interacts with card holder data should be updated regularly.

  1. Place Restrictions on Card Data

The card holder data should be strictly shared with only needed individuals. The data should not be shared around with people who are not involved in any activity. And the personnel who have access to the data should keep record of the same.

  1. Unique Identification

For the personnel who have access to card holder data, there should be special identification. A good way to do this is by creating unique IDs for every individual who needs to login and use information. This allows accountability and tracking of information movement.

  1. Protect Physical Data

Card holder data should be stored physically as well – it could be hand-written, stored on a drive or in form of sheets. This is essential in case of failure of digital systems. On top of this, the access to this physical space should be limited – preferably to just a handful of important individuals. Also, all the entries and exits to this space should be noted.

  1. Maintain Log Sheets
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Keeping a track of log entry is an effective way to hold people accountable and reduce internal theft. Compliance to a proper logging system is, therefore, essential for security reasons.

PCI DSS certification
  1. Run Vulnerability Check

Every system has loopholes, and it is better to find those on our own rather through a malfunction. So, running vulnerability checks is a good way to identify system lags, outdated software, human error etc.

  1. System for Documentation

Since a primary compliance measure is to keep logs and document movement of access, it is important to follow proper policies for documentation.

Why should you invest in PCI compliance?

PCI compliance is a great way for you to convey to your clients that you securely store data and take measures to ensure that there is no malfunction.

Founder of this enthusiastic tech blog and a lover of nature, space, future technology, and maybe, a nerd.

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