PCI DSS Explained: What It Is, Requirements & Steps Towards Compliance

When running a business online, you need to worry about all kinds of stuff in order to make the transactions safe both for you and for your customers. One of the things you will absolutely need to do is make sure that their credit card data is properly safeguarded, regardless of the actual transaction volume. Well, that is precisely what PCI DSS is for, which is why you need to do your best to learn more about it in order to be absolutely certain that your customers are safe to enter their data on your website.

Of course, in order to be able to make sure of that, you’ll need to do some more learning, as mentioned previously. For starters, you will need to have PCI DSS properly explained to you, and then you’ll have to learn about the actual requirements. Once you get a clearer idea on all of that, you’ll have to get acquainted with the actual steps towards compliance, because you absolutely need to be compliant with these specific rules if you want to run a successful business.

If you are ready to go through the entire learning process, then you have come to the right place. We will take this step by step and answer all of those questions for you one at a time. That way, you’ll gradually keep increasing your knowledge on PCI DSS, meaning that you’ll ultimately get a much better understanding on how it all works. So, let us begin addressing the questions.

What Is PCI DSS?

As a company, you need to create a safe environment for your customers when accepting and processing their credit card information. Well, Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard is actually a set of standards that will help you do that the right way. Compliance to this set of standards is actually mandated by credit card companies, because transaction security is certainly quite important. Click this to get an even better idea on what all of this entails.

PCI DSS has become mandatory, but you need to understand that it isn’t actually a law. Instead, it is a security standard that is mandated by those contracts merchants create with credit card companies. Upon signing the contract, merchants also understand that they are subject to certain fines if they fail to meet the compliance requirements. The actual fines differ from company to company and they are usually larger for those firms that have higher payment volumes.

What Are The Requirements?

If you’ve been reading carefully, then you have understood that there are certain requirements that you need to meet so as to be certain that you are compliant with PCI DSS. In fact, there are twelve requirements in total, and I’ll now list those for you, so that you have them all in one place. Here we go.

  1. Prevent unauthorized system access by installing and maintain proper network security controls
  2. Refrain from using vendor supplied defaults for passwords
  3. Protect cardholder data you store
  4. Use encryption when transmitting the data across public networks
  5. Protect your systems against malicious software
  6. Develop and regularly update secure systems
  7. Make sure cardholder data is accessed only by authorized personnel by restricting access
  8. Assign unique IDs to all authorized users
  9. Restrict physical access to the cardholder data as well
  10. Track all access to network resources
  11. Test those security systems on a regular basis
  12. Maintain policies that actually address data security

What Are The Steps Towards Compliance?

Now that you are familiar with the actual requirements, you are probably wondering which specific steps you need to take towards PCI DSS compliance. So, that is exactly what we are going to explain for you in the rest of the article. Thus, you’ll know exactly what to do once you are done reading.

Perhaps this article could be of help as well:

1. Determine Current Compliance Level

Unsurprisingly, you need to start the process by assessing your current compliance level. This should help you understand the improvements that need to be made. And, of course, you’ll also get a clear idea on what you’re doing correctly.

2. Get Proper Assessment

Determining the level will be possible through proper assessment. Fortunately, there are companies out there that offer self-assessment questionnaires that can be of help. Your main goal here is to find a great company and a great questionnaire that will be of help.

3. Build Your Strong Network

Upon completing the two steps above, you’ll need to start working towards building your strong network. You’ll get info on the weak spots in your infrastructure. Thus, you will know what to do in order to improve those.

4. Get Your AOC

Once you’re done with the process, you should get your AOC. This is basically a formal attestation of compliance. It is used as a signal that you have actually achieved PCI DSS compliance.

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