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Keeping client data secure is integral to smooth operations and an excellent reputation. Working with sensitive data requires the company to stay compliant with specific rules. If you are processing credit card payments, you’ve probably heard about PCI DSS compliance. It is necessary to remain compliant with related laws and regulations. Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) is a collection of security standards that require companies that work with credit card information to maintain top-notch security. Otherwise, you can face severe penalties. Let’s look at PCI data security standard compliance and its main goals.

What is PCI DSS Compliance?

Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard compliance is a set of specific security requirements that an organization must fulfill to keep credit card information safe, which doesn’t just involve credit card processing. The standard dictates the safety of all operations with payment card data, including storage. The PCI DSS was created back in 2006 by PCI Security Standards Council. All companies that work with credit card information need to comply with the standard to provide minimal security to sensitive information. If your company complies with PCI DSS, it minimizes the chances of security breaches and data loss. PCI DSS encompasses six crucial compliance goals. All of them aim to protect stored cardholder data and prevent cyber breaches. When a customer uses a credit card to purchase from your organization, they put their trust in your safety measures. PCI Security Standards Council ensures that the trust isn’t misplaced.

1. Building and Maintaining a Secure Network

Network security is one of the pillars of secure business operation. Even if you have a small computer network, it’s still vulnerable to both on-premise and cyber breaches. That’s why it’s imperative to beef up security, especially if you are working with sensitive information. Creating a robust network involves installing and maintaining security software, firewalls, and anti-virus software. It also includes regular software and hardware maintenance. You should also work on a solid backup and disaster recovery plan. Smaller companies often outsource cybersecurity services to managed IT service providers who have sufficient time and resources to ensure top-notch results.

2. Protecting Credit Card Data

When a customer shares cardholder data, it becomes the company’s responsibility to keep it safe.  You need to encrypt the transmission of cardholder data through the public networks. This involves using PCI-compliant hardware and software. Keep in mind that not all equipment you use for credit card transactions is safe. Many apps and card readers come with cybersecurity loopholes that may be hard to find until too late. The easiest way to check whether your payment application is PCI compliant is to check the PCI Security Standard Council’s website. It has a list of approved programs for credit card transactions.

3. Maintaining a Vulnerability Management Program

A vulnerability management program is designed to identify and fix vulnerabilities that hinder the company’s operation. When it comes to PCI DSS compliance, the program involves monitoring credit card data security. By implementing this type of program, you aren’t working out a way to regularly test security systems. You are checking the latest developments in cybersecurity. The program helps you find loopholes and develop preventive measures.

4. Implementing Strong Access Control Measures

A large number of data breaches occur due to poor access control measures. Some of them happen when employees of the organization aren’t careful about sharing their access information. In other cases, the breaches are deliberately done from the inside. Besides maintaining secure systems, it’s vital to restrict physical access to protect cardholder data. Doing this can prevent serious security breaches. This action only provides access details, such as system passwords, to designated employees.

5. Regular Network Monitoring and Testing

Network monitoring and testing are an integral part of network management. It not only ensures smooth operation but also ensures security measures are working. If something happens to the network, it can reveal the problem and notify the related parties. Quick response to network problems can prevent serious consequences. When hackers try to breach your system, there is still time to counter their efforts. That’s only possible with continuous testing and monitoring. Regular testing of security systems and processing allows you to ensure that the cardholder data is safe at all times.

6. Designing and Maintaining an Information Security Policy

Information security policy is a collection of rules that explain how to use, manage, and protect IT assets, including cardholder information. These rules apply to all network users and company employees. By creating a robust information security policy, you beef up network security and improve data safety. The main elements of such a policy are:

  • Purpose (all employees need to understand the fundamental purpose of the policy)
  • Authority and enforcement (everyone needs to understand who is responsible for information security)
  • Requirements (security requirements must be transparent to anyone with access to sensitive information).

Designing a solid data security policy isn’t always easy. Some companies prefer to outsource this task to third-party IT experts.

Final Thoughts

The key goals of PCI DSS focus on ensuring high data security within your organization. As soon as you start processing, storing, and transmitting credit card information, you are responsible for keeping it safe. Otherwise, you aren’t in compliance with PCI DSS requirements. Keeping cardholder data safe involves building a solid security infrastructure within your company. When you provide safety and preventive measures for cardholder information, you are also boosting your company’s data security. Many organizations already have many strong measures to ensure PCI DSS compliance. You have to remember that to stay compliant. You need to monitor your network and the latest security developments continuously.