What is PCI compliance?
PCI stands for the Payment Card Industry and represents the top five credit card firms. Payment Card Industry Security Standards Council, also created by five major credit card firms, decided to determine some standards for financial data security.
The reason behind it is that financial data is a huge concern for many companies. In 2022, around 9.4 million people were affected by financial data breaches in the US. Since more and more people make financial transactions over the Internet, financial data has become even more important. Now, cybercriminals chase financial data because it makes a lot of money in the darknet. When financial data is captured, cybercriminals can sell it at high prices.
On the other hand, individuals want to trust companies in terms of their data security. They want their financial information to stay confidential. This is where PCI DSS (Payment Card Industry Data Security Standards) emerges. The Council (Payment Card Industry Security Standards Council) decided to create international, holistic, and extensive guidelines which consider credit card users’ data security. With a mandate given by the leading credit card companies, Council creates some standards. Now, companies that store, process, or transfer financial data have an obligation to be compliant with these standards. We call it PCI compliance.
E-commerce businesses and PCI compliance
It is vital for e-commerce businesses to comply with PCI standards. They are more vulnerable to data breaches due to online transactions. It is more challenging for e-commerce businesses to implement standards. Here, we will touch on fundamental issues that e-commerce may face.
Data storage and transfer issues
PCI compliance requires secure data storage and transfer. If a company does not have any data storage and transfer standards, it can not achieve an optimal level of security. Companies should switch their data security systems to modern ones. If they use cloud systems, they must consider cloud security solutions and brand-new cybersecurity systems.
Data resources are prone to cyber-attacks and there can be a leakage anytime. However, it is possible to diminish the number of attacks. Furthermore, even if an attack occurs, appropriate solutions can considerably lessen the damages of the breaches. Data backup and encryption is one of the methods that can prevent companies from falling victim to data breaches.
Data backup provides a guarantee on companies will not lose their data. Keeping financial data active is important because most companies pursue their transactions by using these data. It is crucial for a company’s financial stability.
On the other hand, data encryption protects companies from malicious consequences. Even if a cybercriminal captures a financial data of a client, he can not sell or disclose it due to encryption. So, data encryption protects companies from the catastrophic consequences of a data breach.
Mandatory Requirements: A Challenge
Achieving PCI compliance is not a piece of cake for businesses. First of all, a company who subject to PCI DSS should obtain a certificate. This certificate represents that the company is compliant with the PCI DSS requirements. This certificate is not a one-time thing so companies should prove regularly that they meet the PCI DSS standards. So, it can be costly and may create pressure on small or medium-sized businesses.
To fulfill the mandatory requirements, companies should have a crisis plan, vulnerability solutions, data protection methods, and access control systems. You should know that the requirements are not limited to these so it can be a real challenge for companies to become compliant with PCI DSS.
How to Secure Online Transactions?
Payment gateway security
The first step should be to create a secure payment gateway. When an e-commerce business has a secure payment gateway, we can say that the company eliminated most of the risks that threaten payment security. Since payment gateways are the bridges that connect clients with merchants, it is vital for businesses to give adequate attention to payment gateways.
Data encryption, tokenization, and SSL can be used to secure payment gateways. Whichever security measures the company use, the important thing is to provide data security.
A firewall is the best way of controlling online traffic. Firewalls will be the first step toward online transaction security compliance even before the gateways. Businesses can avoid unwanted access to the network by setting up a firewall. Secondly, unauthorized access to financial data resources, such as cardholder information can be protected against third-party access.
As a business owner or a manager, you must adopt a firewall to provide compliance with PCI DSS. Remember that protecting the network from unauthorized access is vital when it comes to data security.
Cardholder’s data security
The other PCI DSS compliance requirement is the cardholder’s data security. It comprises of many measures such as access restrictions to the data resources, network access monitoring, and creating a cybersecurity policy.
PCI DSS is born due to the need for cardholder data protection. So, it is obvious that PCI DSS mainly focuses on cardholders’ interests. From the cardholder's point of view, financial data safety should be a priority. Firstly, companies should limit access authorities to the vulnerable financial data of people. Limitless access enlarges the attack surface and causes more harm to the companies. Removing privileges is always a good idea.
On the other hand, e-commerce businesses should protect their network from both internal and external threats. There are several solutions available such as VPN solutions, Zero Trust security, and IAM. Companies can choose the appropriate one by considering their requirements and vulnerabilities.
Lastly, security specialists recommend companies create an extensive and effective cybersecurity policy. Since each business has different parameters, requirements, and facilities, policies have been changed from business to business. The best thing is to determine basic but effective procedures that promise high-level protection.
PCI compliance is an obligation for e-commerce businesses. Although this compliance regulation is not a rule of law, it is binding for companies that have online payment platforms. Because e-commerce businesses should use legitimate credit card platforms and these platforms require PCI compliance. As a business owner or entrepreneur, you must take the necessary measures to become PCI DSS compliant if you are planning to use an online payment system.