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Understanding PCI DSS

credit card security

Does your business accept credit cards? Accepting credit cards can enhance your profitability, but they also create additional risk for your business. Small businesses in towns like Abilene and Sweetwater are prime targets for data thieves and hackers. Do you understand the responsibilities that accepting credit cards entails? Failure to protect your cutomers’ credit card data from theft could leave you liable for paying restitution, fines, or even losing the ability to accept cards as payment.

Security Standards

The Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) is a compliant data transfer standardization that is used to ensure the security and privacy of the transfer of financial information.

PCI DSS was designed as a standard to ensure that every company that processes, stores, or transmits credit card information maintains the infrastructural security necessary to provide a secure pathway in which to transfer financial information.

It’s important to clarify that PCI DSS is not a law but a globally accepted set of standard security protocols that govern an organization’s ability to keep consumer and vendor financial information safe.

The six goals of PCI DSS are:

  1. 1. Create, manage, and maintain a PCI-compliant network.
    2. Protect the data that your organization has acquired.
    3. Create and maintain a plan in which to manage your environment's vulnerabilities.
    4. Implement enhancements to access control interface.
    5. Monitor, manage, and regularly test networks.
    6. Maintain a policy in which to continuously manage your organization's data security.

PCI DSS also provides merchants with many useful practices that work to ensure that you aren't short changing your data security protocols.

Security Paradigm for Acceptance of Digital Card Payments

Phase One - Assessment

The primary reasons to assess your technology is to identify any hardware, software or infrastructure vulnerabilities that pose risks to cardholder security. In order to perform a proper assessment, business owners need to determine how credit card transactions flow through your computing system. This provides insight into how to to accommodate for PCI DSS. Resources that can assist with this step include:

  • Self-Assessment Questionnaires - The completion of a questionnaire that is designed to assist you in determining where you are, opposed to where you need to be in regards to PCI DSS.
  • Qualified Assessors - There are professional services that will test your system to ensure everything is secure and working properly.

It is essential to understand the processes you use to charge and store your customer's financial information as it is your responsibility to keep this information safe.

Phase Two - Remediation

Once you have identified the vulnerabilities, you will have to fix them in order to avoid the headaches associated with non-compliance. The remediation process is your organization's chance to expose flaws in its information storage security and diligently patch those flaws. Tolar Systems IT technicians can assist your organization in the remediation process.

Phase Three - Reporting

Once your remediation process is complete, you then must compile your findings and submit the required remediation validation records and compliance reports to the acquiring bank and card processing centers. Every Texas small business that wants to accept and store consumer credit card information needs to report a functional and secure PCI DSS system in order to be in compliance.

Why be Compliant?

PCI DSS compliance has benefits for businesses of all sizes, while failure to comply can result in negative consequences.

The benefits include:

  • Compliant systems are more secure, enhancing customer and vendor trust in your organization.
  • PCI DSS compliance positions you to comply with federal and state mandated data security regulations.
  • Adhering to compliance standards can help you identify and plug any security holes in your systems, protecting your business from breach or theft of crucial business data.

While there are many more benefits of compliance, some of the consequences of failure to comply with PCI DSS regulations include:

  • Negative impact on customers, merchants, and financial institutions that partner with your business.
  • Damage to your company's reputation, making it difficult to conduct business effectively.
  • Potential lawsuits, fines from multiple regulatory organizations, cancelled accounts, and insurance claims.

It's getting tougher to compete in any industry without a solution in place to accept credit cards as a payment. To learn more about Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard compliance or any other data security compliance your organization may need, contact Tolar Systems today.