Benefits of PCI DSS Compliance

By Cash Discount Program on October 26, 2023
Photo of a Customer Paying with Card

Ever wondered how safe your customers’ credit or debit card information really is when they swipe at your store? Credit card fraud has become an epidemic over the last decade; over $52 billion was lost in 2022 alone, according to a report by Javelin Strategy & Research. A single data breach can potentially cost your business $4.45 million and almost bankrupt you overnight.

So, what’s the solution? In 2004, the world’s biggest card associations came together to form the Payment Card Industry Security Standards Council (PCI SSC) creating a set of guidelines to ensure all cardholder data is stored, processed, and transmitted in the safest way possible in an effort to prevent data breach.

What is PCI DSS and Why is it Important?

Before PCI DSS Compliance in 2004, each card company had its own data protection rules, which was confusing for merchants and also created many loopholes that hackers could easily exploit. So, the PCI Security Standards Council decided to make one uniform set of guidelines for every business to follow.

These PCI DSS (Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard) security policies have 12 core compliance requirements that are a checklist for merchants to ensure they prevent data breaches to keep cardholder data protected:

  1. Firewall setup: To block unauthorized access with firewalls.
  2. Change default passwords: To replace factory-set passwords to deter hackers.
  3. Encrypt stored data: To scramble saved card data for extra safety.
  4. Secure data transmission: To encrypt payment card data when sending it over networks.
  5. Update software: To keep all software current to close any data security gaps.
  6. Limit customer data access: To only allow necessary personnel to access sensitive data.
  7. Unique user IDs: To assign discrete IDs for tracking and accountability.
  8. Lock hardware: To shield the servers and other data-storing equipment.
  9. Activity logs: To maintain records of all network interactions.
  10. Security tests: To test all security protocols on a regular basis.
  11. Crystal-clear guidelines: To establish and share security policies.
  12. Staff updates: To inform all staff members about security changes.

Each of these PCI compliance requirements is further broken down into several sub-requirements as well. This probably sounds like a lot but that’s what the Self-Assessment Questionnaires (SAQs) are for. SAQs are tools within the PCI DSS framework to help you evaluate your company’s credit card processing compliance. Applying payment card industry data, they guide you through a series of questions to determine if you meet essential security requirements.

SAQs are designed for businesses based on how cardholder data is handled. SAQ A-EP, for instance, is for e-commerce companies whose websites are involved in the payment process but don’t directly collect or store cardholder data.

After you have implemented the 12 core PCI DSS requirements and their sub-requirements under PCI DSS, you can use SAQs to get a sense of where you stand compliance-wise. There are 9 types of SAQs in total; choose the right one for your business model.

Why PCI DSS Compliance Is Important

One of the clear benefits of PCI DSS compliance is that it prevents any unauthorized access to your customers’ confidential information. Whether customers walk through physical doors at your store or use your service and spend money, they trust you to handle their payment data securely, and not have it end up in the hands of hackers, thieves, or identity fraudsters.  

Adhering to PCI DSS measures allows you to make the most of practices like encryption and tokenization, which scramble card numbers and other details. When a customer enters their credit card information on a PCI DSS-compliant website, that data is encrypted before it is sent over the internet. 

We recommend using the most up-to-date pci compliant encryption standards, such as TLS 1.2 or higher, to ensure a secure network and protect your data from risk of data breaches or cyber-attacks.

Avoid legal consequences with PCI Compliance

Another reason to be PCI DSS compliant is small businesses are at risk of  legal and financial problems if they dont fix vulnerabilities. Issuance penalties range from $5,000 to $100,000 per month, depending on business size and the extent of violations. PCI Compliance prevents getting sued by customers whose credit card data was compromised, a drop in customer confidence, and continued cyber threats. 

In May 2023 customers and other stakeholders sued Webster Bank in a class action lawsuit after a data breach exposed the personal information of over 150,000 affected individuals. In 2017, non compliance security breaches by Equifax, one of the largest credit reporting agencies in the U.S., resulted in the Social Security numbers, birth dates, and addresses of nearly 147 million Americans being leaked. The total cost to the company ended up at $425 million in settlements.

The loss of customer trust and the financial burden of all the penalties and lawsuits can be too much for some businesses to bear.  To avoid fines and financial loss, card brands expect adherence to global standards preventing increasingly common data breaches.

Streamline Your Business Operations

Being PCI compliant means using card industry data security standards to protect cardholder information. You can work with the vendors and partners of your choice because they know you meet an internationally recognized security standard. Benefits of PCI DSS Compliance include eliminating time-consuming audits every time you want to finalize a contract.  It can be simple to meet the industry data security standard by answering the self assessment questionnaire, using anti virus software, and meeting PCI DSS Requirements.

Also, data security compliance involves setting up quite a few automated systems for security checks, such as an intrusion detection system (IDS), file integrity monitoring (FIM), and a vulnerability management program. Automated tools for achieving compliance with multiple devices mean less manual work saving time, one of the many benefits of pci compliance for a business.

In B2B, reputation is everything. Many consumers perform due diligence to find a business with proper security measures and PCI Compliant, protecting sensitive data of credit or debit cards can make you stand out in a crowded market. Plus, many businesses are required by their own pci compliance standards to only engage with another pci compliant business. So, ensuring all test networks maintain compliance can make you a more attractive business partner and less at risk for data breaches.

Take the Stress Out of Card Safety with

Using the PCI DSS assessment questionnaires process can help you identify the weak spots in your website’s security, but for the tools or support to actually fix those issues will help.

We will help you set up impregnable systems to process secure debit and credit card payments, guide you through SAQ paperwork, and provide ongoing support to make your payment process safer. We also offer the benefits of a cash discount program to help you save money on credit card transactions, making security more affordable than ever. Call us at (855) 483-9390 or contact us online to learn more.

Category: Uncategorized