Should You Focus On PCI Compliance For Your Business?

As a player in the payment card industry, you’re part of a much larger machine – a single cog in an industrial engine that never stops moving. Every player has a responsibility to the others to maintain peak performance or you risk toppling the entire process.

That’s why it’s so imperative for you to do your best to keep your payment card transactions secure. Cardholder account information is sensitive data, and that’s a huge understatement. Data leaks are reported in the news every week, and at least once a year we hear about a massive data breach that impacts hundreds of thousands of consumers.

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PCI Compliance and Cyber Security

Contactless and online transactions account for as much as half of all payment card transactions today, and leveraging state-of-the-art technology, the payment card industry processes millions of payment card transactions without requiring the card to be present – a far cry from the “knuckle busters” and paper receipts of 40 years ago.

With the Internet came the explosive use of electronic point-of-sale (POS) terminals and digital payment card transaction devices. When dial-up Internet graduated to high-speed, payment card transactions began to outnumber those where cash was exchanged out of convenience. With convenience, however, came risks.

Even the most sophisticated of networks today carry risks, though, and while technology enables payment card transactions, these transactions involve vendors, merchants, payment processing networks, credit card companies, and others. With so many participants, the risks increase. With so many participants, the risks increase, as does the need for increased cyber security.

Why Should Your Business Be PCI Compliant?

In 2006, the Payment Card Industry Security Standards Council formed as a joint effort between major credit card companies to oversee the payment card industry and regulate security standards for all parties involved in payment card transactions. The primary goal of the Council is to protect cardholder financial account information and minimize the risk of cardholder data exposure.

The Council published a set of security guidelines, the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standards (PCI DSS), identifying steps needed to safeguard cardholder data in payment card transactions. The requirements outlined in PCI DSS underscore the importance of protecting sensitive cardholder data, specifying how this data should be stored, accessed, and processed. The base data security requirements are organized into critical areas of cyber security:

  • IT systems and network security
  • Data encryption
  • Monitor for security vulnerabilities to identify and resolve issues immediately
  • Review network activity, tracking network users to prevent unauthorized access
  • Limit access to sensitive information
  • Train all users on formal security processes, including password best practices

Why It’s Important To Focus On PCI Compliance

Each of the areas outlined above share a common theme: sophisticated technology requires sophisticated security. Did you notice the bonus there? This increased cyber security protects your business just as much as these measures protect your information and your network from weaknesses and vulnerabilities, and protect cardholders from exposure, increased risk of identity theft, credit card fraud, and more.