What is PCI DSS?

Constituted by a few renowned financial services including Visa, MasterCard, in 2004, Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) is a set of safety standards aimed at protecting credit and debit card transactions against data holdup and scam. The PCI SSC is not legally authorized to force compliance, but it is mandatory for any business that processes credit or debit card transactions. It’s also considered as the most effective method to protect sensitive data and information, thus helping companies create enduring and reliable relationships with their clients.

PCI-compliant security offers an important asset that apprises clients that it’s safe to transact with your business. On the contrary, the cost of nonconformity, both in financial and reputational terms, should be sufficient to persuade any entrepreneur not to underestimate data security. A data break that discloses important customer information is expected to have severe consequences on a company. A breach may lead to fines from payment card issuers, lawsuits, reduced sales and a harshly dented reputation.

After undergoing a breach, a company may have to stop accepting credit card dealings or be compelled to pay higher ensuing charges than the original cost of security conformity. The investment in PCI security events ensures that other facets of your commerce are safe from nefarious hackers or cybercriminals.

PCI DSS Compliance levels

Split into four levels, PCI compliance is based on the yearly number of credit or debit card transactions processed by a company. The cataloguing level ascertains what a company needs to do to continue to be compliant.

  • Level 1: This level has to do with traders processing upwards of 6 million credit or debit card transactions yearly. Carried out by an approved PCI auditor, the transactions must undergo an internal audit once a year. Also, they must submit to a PCI image by an Approved Scanning Vendor (ASV).
  • Level 2: This level deals with traders processing between one and 6 million real-world credit or debit card transactions per year. They need to complete an assessment once a year using a Self-Assessment Questionnaire (SAQ). Additionally, a quarterly PCI scan may be required.
  • Level 3: Applies to merchants processing between 20,000 and one million e-commerce transactions annually. They must complete an annual valuation using the pertinent SAQ, while a quarterly PCI scan may also be needed.
  • Level 4: This has to do with traders processing fewer than 20,000 e-commerce dealings or year, or those that process as much as one million real-world dealings. An annual evaluation using the pertinent SAQ must be finished and a three-monthly PCI scan may be obligatory.

PCI DSS requirements

The PCI SSC has delineated 12 requirements for management of cardholder data and upkeeping a protected network. Divided between six wide-ranging objectives, all are essential for a company to become compliant.

Protect network

  1. A firewall configuration must be installed and maintained
  2. System passwords must be unique (not vendor-supplied)

Protect cardholder data

  1. Deposited cardholder data must be secured
  2. Transmissions of cardholder data across public networks must be encoded

Vulnerability management

  1. Anti-virus software must be employed and frequently updated
  2. Safe systems and applications must be designed and maintained

Access control

  1. Cardholder data access must be limited to a business need-to-know basis
  2. Every individual with computer access must be allocated a unique ID
  3. Physical access to cardholder data must be limited

Network monitoring and testing

  1. Admittance to cardholder data and network resources must be followed and checked
  2. Security systems and procedures must be regularly tested

Information security

  1. A policy regarding information security must be maintained

The Importance of The PCI DSS

There are a number of benefits associated with the PCI DSS. First of all, it protects the data of your enterprise and your employees. While navigating through risks such as malware threats and social engineering, you should take the appropriate precautions to keep your computers, networks, and servers protected. Secondly, increasing customer confidence is also very important, as you would never approach a business if you knew your credit card information may be stolen. Your business will not be taken seriously if people are uncomfortable about you keeping their data secure.

Thirdly, PCI DSS helps protect your clients, who trust you with their card data to transact with your business. But rest assured, you are the only one to suffer should your data get breached. It’s your duty to keep your client’s data secure while it’s in your possession. In case you fail to secure your client’s data, you are liable to lawsuits and penalties, particularly if you misleadingly told them your business was safe. Being PCI- compliant can help minimize these fines and penalties while reducing the number of lawsuits your business may get into. Last but not least, PCI DSS reduces the expenses of data breaches for they can cost you dearly in that you may suffer both in financial and customer confidence terms.


Since its creation, PCI DSS has undergone numerous iterations in an effort to keep up with changes to the online threat scene. Although new requirements are intermittently added, the elementary rules for conformity have remained constant. One of the more noteworthy of these additions was Requirement 6.6, which was set up in 2008 to protect data against some of the most prevalent web application attack vectors and other malicious inputs. Employing such methods can help criminals potentially gain access to a host of data—including sensitive customer information. Fulfilling this need can be acquired either through application code appraisals or by realizing a web application firewall (WAF).

The first option comprises a physical appraisal of web application source code along with a flaw evaluation of application security. It needs a capable internal resource or third party to run the assessment, while final consent must come from an external organization. Furthermore, the chosen assessor is required to remain informed on the latest trends in web application security to guarantee that all future threats are appropriately addressed.



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