Benefits of Achieving PCI Compliance

by Mike Smith
07.06.2018   Compliance

Complying with regulations is often perceived as a burdensome and costly endeavour. And in many ways, it is. But there are a number of reasons why complying with PCI-DSS can be a valuable asset to your business. Before we dive into the benefits, it is important to go through some of the basic PCI-DSS requirements. The requirements mandate companies to; install and maintain a firewall, not use any defaults passwords, encrypt data at rest and in transit, keep software patched and up-to-date, restrict both virtual and physical access to cardholder data, monitor access to cardholder data and carry out regular security tests.

I’m sure most of us can think of a time, perhaps in our jobs or in education, when we lost some important files, despite being constantly reminded to back up our work. Many companies still operate with the same “it will never happen to me” mindset when it comes to data security, yet it often does. Complying with PCI-DSS provides us with the incentives we need to implement firewalls, data encryption, access controls, and file auditing solutions to minimize the chances of a data breach. It also serves as a useful framework from which we can develop a robust cyber security policy. Not only that, but PCI-DSS is one of the few regulations that is recognised as a global standard, which means we don’t have to concern ourselves about updating our security policy when processing card data from other countries.

As data breaches continue to make the headlines, customers are becoming increasingly concerned about the privacy of their data. Reassuring your customers that you have implemented the necessary safeguards will go a long way in improving the reputation of your brand, and thus win more business. According to the Verizon PCI compliance report, “69% of consumers would be less inclined to do business with a breached organization”.

Any merchant who accepts card payments must comply with PCI-DSS. There are several levels, each with different reporting requirements, that are based on the amount of transactions processed per year. Failure to comply with the regulation could lead to fines of up to $25,000 per month, and may continue for every month the merchant is non-compliant. Not only that, but fines can escalate if a company continues to remain non-compliant. Now with the GDPR in full effect, those fines could be significantly higher. Of course, the GDPR only applies to organisations who process data belonging to EU citizens; however, for most retailers, this is likely to be case. Under the GDPR, a failure to comply could result in fines of up to €20 million, or 4% of annual turnover, whichever is greater. For those applicable, complying with PCI-DSS could prevent a major headache further down the line.

If nothing else, knowing that you are compliant with a universally accepted set of standards will give you peace of mind. You can rest assured that you have taken the necessary steps to protect your sensitive payment information. Finally, complying with PCI-DSS is not actually as hard as it sounds. Perhaps the most complicated part relates to restricting and monitoring access to the card-holder’s data. However, these days there are a number of easy-to-use auditing solutions for PCI compliance on the market that can help to enforce “least privilege” access, and automatically detect, alert and respond to changes made to any files and folders that are associated with the card-holder’s data.

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