PCI Compliance and Its Benefits to Your Organization

Understand PCI compliance by diving into its requirements and the benefits of it for your organization.
min read

PCI compliance, or Payment Card Industry compliance, refers to a set of industry standards for businesses handling credit card information. Created by The Payment Card Industry Security Standards Council and enforced by card networks and payment processors, these standards are designed to protect customer data and ensure secure transactions.

Failure to implement these robust security measures exposes customers to fraud and identity theft risks and invites severe legal consequences, financial losses, and reputational damage. Unfortunately, studies have found that only about 36% of companies are in full compliance. 

What Are the 12 PCI Compliance Requirements?

1. Install and maintain a firewall configuration to protect cardholder data.

On top of building and maintaining a secure network, merchants should establish firewall and router standards for allowing or denying access. This includes ensuring that employee computers or mobile devices accessing the organization’s network are protected.  

2. Do not use vendor-supplied defaults for system passwords and other security parameters.

Most of the hardware and software your organization uses have default usernames and passwords set by the factory. According to the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, these defaults are often easy to guess, are asimilar to each other, or are even available online. Following this requirement ensures all usernames and passwords are unique to your organization and are protected. 

3. Protect stored cardholder data.

In most cases, your organization shouldn’t store cardholder data. However, if cardholder information storage is required for legal, regulatory, or business reasons, it should be appropriately encrypted and held for the shortest retention period possible.  

4. Encrypt transmission of cardholder data across open, public networks. 

While the last requirement ensures cardholder data is safe in your care, this requirement ensures it is safe when transmitted over an open network. This includes encrypting the cardholder data and knowing where you will send it to and receive it from. 

5. Use and regularly update anti-virus software or programs. 

Investing in and updating anti-virus software protects against all types of malware and is a proactive way to find weaknesses in your system. All access points to your system, including local workstations or remote laptops and mobile devices used by employees, should be equally protected. 

6. Develop and maintain secure systems and applications. 

If there are problems with your security, your organization is responsible for identifying, ranking, and patching the risk as quickly and efficiently as possible. To do so, you should have a robust process through all phases of development. 

7. Restrict access to cardholder data by business need to know.

Only certain employees need access to cardholder data to help your organization operate efficiently. Reducing the number of people who can access this data reduces your risk of accidental and malicious breaches. 

8. Assign a unique ID to each person with computer access.

For those at your organization with access to cardholder data, establish a unique login and password to promote accountability and confirm all activity can be traced. 

9. Restrict physical access to cardholder data.

The prior requirements examine digital access, but physical access should also be protected. This means restricting and monitoring access to physical locations, like data centers. All data should be secured, and backups should be maintained at an offsite location. 

10. Track and monitor all access to network resources and cardholder data.

All points of access should have an audit system in place for transactions to be regularly reviewed for anomalies and suspicious activities. These audit trail records must meet specific standards, such as how much information they contain and how long they need to be kept.

11. Regularly test security systems and processes.

Every time you gain or lose employees, work with a new vendor, or change your processes, your system takes on new and unknown risks. It’s important to consistently test and check security systems to ensure no new vulnerabilities have arisen. 

12. Maintain a policy that addresses information security for all personnel.

No one employee or partner should be responsible for your security measures. To correctly implement PCI compliance, provide information about your compliance policy to all employees, vendors, and contractors so they have what they need to support the process. 

Every organization is different, and the specific standards for each requirement will vary by size and the number of transactions you process. Your partners in the industry, including card networks and payment processors, will work closely with you to ensure you’re meeting these standards. 

How Does PCI Compliance Benefit Your Organization?

The transaction security and financial benefits of PCI compliance are by far the most obvious. By adhering to these standards, organizations can reduce the risk of data breaches and unauthorized access. This also mitigates the financial loss that comes with data breaches, including the risk of costly fines, legal fees, and reputation repair. PCI compliance frameworks often include incident response and risk management guidelines, allowing you to recover from security incidents more quickly than if the guidelines weren’t in place.  

Finally, there are also operational benefits to compliance. Being PCI-compliant demonstrates a commitment to protecting customer data and ensuring secure transactions, building customer trust, and increasing engagement. It also encourages organizations to streamline payment processes leading to optimized business operations.

How Does ACTIVE Network’s Payment Manager Help Your Organization Stay on Top of PCI Compliance?

ACTIVE Network’s PCI-compliant Payment Manager 2.0 system streamlines operations by integrating all payments into a single platform. Our solutions provide a wide range of payment options, including a POS feature, while also integrating with legacy systems, allowing it to accept payments for bills and fees managed by other technology solutions. With added personalization for your organization’s needs, Payment Manager will help keep your payment processing efficient and secure.

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May 18, 2023
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