PCI compliance can sometimes appear as an impossible task to accomplish by small businesses. But that should not be the case because it is something that can be achieved as long as you have the right information and partners.
What is PCI compliance?
PCI refers to the Payment Card Industry Data Standards (PCI DSS). It is a collection of security standards meant to ensure that every company that accepts, stores, processes, and transmits credit card information maintains a safe and secure environment.
The security requirements comprise 12 requirements that all businesses need to meet in order to be considered PCI compliant. Failing to comply with PCI requirements puts your business at risk of being fined, getting negative publicity, and increased transaction fees.
To ensure that every business is compliant, there is a PCI audit done every year to find out if businesses are adhering to the PCI regulations or not. Besides, credit companies and payment processors risk being fined if they are found doing business with you.
These companies will recoup the money deducted from them by the regulator by passing it over to your business for non-compliance. Your business can pay up to $10,000 per month for failing to comply with PCI rules and guidelines.
Other than the fines, your business is also likely to lose its relationship with credit companies, banks, and any other payment processor that is associated with your business. None of them will want to work with a company or business that is not PCI compliant.
Who is supposed to be PCI compliant?
As long as your business accepts credit payments, you are supposed to adhere to PCI rules and regulations. This is irrespective of how small or big your business is.
Below are the 12 PCI requirements that every business is supposed to comply with:
- Install a firewall configuration to protect user data
- Build and maintain a secure data network
- Protect cardholder data
- Have a vulnerability management program
- Avoid using vendor-supplied defaults as system passwords
- Always use updated anti-virus programs or software
- Create and maintain secure systems
- Develop and maintain strong access control measures
- Give each of your employees or workers a unique ID when accessing computers
- Restrict the people who can access cardholder data
- Restrict physical access to cardholder information
- Frequently monitor and test systems
What are the benefits of PCI compliance?
The biggest advantage of PCI compliance is the protection that you and your customers get. By complying with all PCI requirements, your business significantly minimizes the risk of a data breach and other cybercrime activities.
PCI compliance also gives your business a positive public image. Customers and other service providers will feel safe working with you. Additionally, you won’t run into issues with regulatory authorities for non-compliance.
Who will determine if your business is PCI compliant?
Businesses can validate their compliance by contacting a Quality Security Assessor to carry out official audits or by filling a self-assessment questionnaire. The PCI requirements will depend on the level that your business falls into.
There are basically four levels that include the following:
Level 1: These are merchants or businesses that process more than six million card transactions per year.
Level 2: level two is for merchants who do between one to six million card transactions in a year
Level 3: Level three covers merchants who process transactions ranging from 20,000 to one million card transactions annually.
Level 4: This level covers businesses or merchants who conduct 20,000 card transactions and below per year.
How is PCI compliance implemented?
PCI DSS is regulated by the PCI Security Standards Council and enforced or implemented by the largest credit card companies including American Express, Visa, MasterCard, JCB, and Discover.
In a nutshell, PCI compliance means a lot to your business. Complying with PCI requirements not only protects your business but also gives it credibility. Failing to comply with PCI regulations can have a lot of negative effects on your business.