The open global forum that promotes the ongoing development, dissemination, enhancement, implementation, and storage of account data protection security standards is the PCI Security Standards Council. PCI compliance refers to maintaining those standards by creating awareness and educating those individuals who work within the industry. The requirements set forth by these standards ensure that all companies provide a secure environment for the processing, storing, or transmitting of any credit card data and personal information.
Credit card companies, financial institutions, and merchants are all PCI members and must be compliant if they are going to accept credit and debit cards. Fines can result as well as losing the ability to process credit and debit cards if these entities fail to meet PCI compliance standards. These standards are comprised of the following 6 categories, all of which must be met in order for them to be PCI compliant.
• Implementation And Maintenance Of A Vulnerability Management Program – Minimizing vulnerability exposure is accomplished by keeping all computer hardware, operating systems, and software applications updated on a regular basis.
• Implementation Of Access Control Measures – The human element is the most exploited security breach and the most difficult to protect. The solution is to limit the access to all cardholder information to only those who need it.
• Maintaining Information Security – Although the human element is the easiest segment of any network or system to hack, ignorance of this fact in no way relieves liability. This is why companies draft, implement, and maintain an information security policy.
• Maintenance Of A Secure Network – This refers to any network that all cardholder data and personal information are exposed to. Additionally, the vulnerability for online merchants is the web server hosting their website.
• Protection Of Cardholder Data And Information – Focuses on the way in which all credit card data and personal information are stored and transmitted.
• Regular Monitoring And Testing Of Networks – The regular monitoring and testing of networks that are used explicitly for the storing of any cardholder information is imperative. Network access must be monitored and tracked, and security measures and processes must be scanned on a regular basis.
The first step where PCI compliance is concerned is meeting the standards listed above. Vendors that abide by these standards are given ratings based on the volume of their monthly transactions. It is the business owner’s responsibility to ensure that all employees understand these standards so that all cardholder information is secure.