PCI-DSS: What is this and why should I be compliant
If your organization works with payment cards, you’ve probably heard the term “PCI-DSS compliance” more than once. However, are you still confused about what it represents in your business?
In the simplest terms, PCI-DSS is a set of 12 security standards designed to ensure that all credit card payments are processed securely.
The Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard was founded in 2006 by major credit card brands such as Visa, Mastercard, American Express, JCB and Discover, with a focus on reducing online payment card fraud.
While PCI DSS is not directly enforced by the government, each credit card brand maintains its own data security compliance procedures. Card companies can penalize companies that do not comply with PCI-DSS.
Read on and get all your PCI-DSS questions answered today!
What is PCI DSS?
The Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI-DSS) is a written standard created by major card brands and maintained by the Payment Card Industry Security Standards Council (PCI-SSC).
PCI-DSS contains technical requirements that protect payment card data during processing, handling, storage, and transmission. All companies handling payment card data, regardless of size or processing methods, must adhere to these requirements and be PCI compliant.
It is important to protect your company’s and your employees’ data. While you are paying attention to physical security in your business, are you dedicating enough time to digitally securing your information?
Between malware threats, remote access attacks, and social engineering, it’s important to take precautions to keep your computers, networks, and servers secure.
The entire purpose of PCI-DSS is to protect card data from malicious actors. By following this standard, you can keep your customer data safe, prevent costly data breaches, and protect your employees and customers.
Who does PCI-DSS apply to?
PCI-DSS applies to any organization that stores, processes, or transmits cardholder data. So PCI really applies to a large subset of retail, e-commerce, finance, and other organizations.
Companies that fail to comply can face monthly fines and, depending on the amount of annual transactions a company processes, are subject to different penalty levels.
There are four levels of PCI compliance, and the category you fall into depends on the volume of card transactions you process in a year.
A Level 1 company handles over 6 million payment card transactions annually. A Level 2 company handles between 1 to 6 million transactions, Level 3 between 20,000 to 1 million, and Level 4 is for service providers with less than 20,000 transactions in a year.
Levels one and two are the highest levels, and companies here have to adhere to stricter rules. If your business suffers a data breach, you could be placed on a higher level of compliance, regardless of the card payments you processed in a year.
What are the benefits of PCI-DSS compliance?
Complying with PCI security standards seems like a complex task. Large organizations face difficulties in dealing with the depth of the pattern and the issues that arise, as do smaller companies.
However, compliance is becoming more important and may not be as problematic as you might think, especially if you have the right tools.
Under the PCI-SSC, there are great benefits to compliance, especially considering that non-compliance can result in serious, long-term consequences. For example:
- PCI compliance means your systems are secure and your customers can trust you with their sensitive payment card information.
- Improve your reputation with acquirers and payment brands – exactly the partners your business needs.
- It’s an ongoing process that helps prevent security breaches and payment card data theft now and in the future. PCI compliance means you are contributing to a global payment card data security solution.
- As you try to attend PCI compliance, you are more prepared to comply with additional regulations such as BACEN, LGPD, GDPR, SOX, HIPAA and others.
- Contributes to corporate security strategies (even if it’s just a starting point).
- PCI compliance likely leads to improved IT infrastructure efficiency.
- PCI-DSS compliance can demonstrate that your security practices are in line with global standards. The standard’s requirements were created by five of the world’s largest payment card companies, and by achieving compliance, you align with other trusted international retailers.
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What are the difficulties of non-compliance with PCI-DSS?
Once you’ve worked to build your brand and protect customers, don’t take any chances with their confidential information. By attending PCI- DSS compliance, you are protecting your customers so they can continue to be your customers.
Possible results of non-compliance with PCI-DSS include:
- Compromised data negatively impacts consumers, merchants and financial institutions.
- Serious damage to your reputation and your ability to conduct business effectively, not just today, but in the future.
- Account data breaches can lead to catastrophic loss of sales, relationships and community standing. In addition, publicly traded companies often see considerable stock price drops as a result of account data breaches.
- Lawsuits, insurance expenses, canceled accounts, payment card issuer fines and government fines.
PCI compliance, like other regulatory requirements, can pose challenges for organizations that are unprepared to deal with protecting critical information.
But protecting data is a much more manageable task with the right software and services.
How does Privileged Access Management address PCI-DSS requirements?
Financial systems are attractive targets for cybercriminals because they offer potentially high returns with little risk. Account information and credit card details, on the other hand, can be stolen and resold on the black market or used directly. Of course, the responsibility for ensuring that your infrastructure is secure rests with the companies.
Security can be a challenge due to the number of ATMs, databases or mainframes and the number of users who need the privilege. Fortunately, PCI-DSS standards help ensure cybersecurity, and Privileged Access Management (PAM) can help ensure that most PCI- DSS requirements are attend.
Requirement: Vendor-supplied defaults must not be used for system or admin passwords.
A strong PAM solution will have password management controls built in, allowing for the creation and enforcement of rules (eg, default passwords must be changed) as well as forced rotation of passwords and keys. A PAM solution will enforce these controls not only for human users, but also for passwords and application accounts.
Requirement: Access to payment card holder data is restricted to those with a business need
In other words, cardholder data is privileged information and should only be accessible to users with the appropriate privileges. Of course, ensuring that sensitive resources are only accessed by the appropriate users is at the heart of PAM.
A strong PAM solution will not only attend this PCI-DSS requirement, it will exceed it, ensuring that users are not only given the appropriate privileges, but also that the circumstances of their access attempt meet the defined rules.
Requirement: All access to network resources and cardholder data must be tracked and monitored
PCI DSS compliance requires knowing not only who, but also what and when a robust PAM solution will attend PCI DSS requirements by monitoring and logging all session activity.
In addition, the best PAM solutions will meet more PC- DSS requirements by having the ability to automatically terminate sessions that attempt unauthorized access or actions that could damage cardholder data and other privileged resources.
Requirement: Secure remote access must be facilitated
At least, a complete PAM solution will meet this requirement with its ability to control privileged access not only by the user but also by circumstances – such as the ability to define not only what critical resources a user can access, but also remote locations (or IP addresses) from which such privileged access is allowed.
How can senhasegura help?
Of course, the full PCI-DSS specification is lengthy and deals with many more aspects of payment card security than PAM itself can adequately address.
However, a strong PAM solution goes a long way toward meeting many of the key PCI-DSS requirements to not only help with compliance, but also help cybersecurity teams truly achieve the regulation-first goal: stronger cybersecurity that protects better cardholder data confidential payments.
senhasegura allows an organization to overcome identity and access control challenges. The solution provides a secure gateway to access target systems.
It acts as a centralized policy engine to authorize and authenticate privileged end users and provides granular control, real-time monitoring and robust password protection to ensure secure and authorized access to target systems in the payment card processing environment.
In addition, senhasegura restricts and monitors privileged users by applying the deepest level of granular control, robust password protection, and multi-factor authentication.
It features custom reporting and audit trails of all privileged activity and separates privileged users and controls the payment card environment through a centralized policy framework.
Request a trial demo now and discover the benefits of senhasegura for your company