Five Steps to PCI DSS Compliance

February 20, 2018

If you’re running an organization that offers card payments, you will know about PCI DSS. The global Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard was set up to ensure that card payment processing is handled securely.
No matter what size your organization, the PCI DSS standards apply, and failure to maintain adequate PCI DSS compliance can lead to a major headache.
Here are five steps to help ensure PCI DSS compliance:

1. Take the issue seriously

Running any business or organisation can take up all your time, and inevitably you will have to prioritise, but don’t make the mistake of thinking that PCI DSS compliance can be put on the back burner.
Businesses that experience a security breach and are subsequently found to be non-compliant can be hit with big fines. For a small business, this can be as high as £15,000, and on top of that, you will have to pay the cost of any investigation required to identify the breach.
Therefore, PCI DSS compliance should be a top priority.

2. Educate yourself and your staff

While you can speak to third-party consultancies to advise on PCI DSS compliance, the more you understand the regulations and your responsibilities, the better.
Taking the time to read the official guidance on the subject will enable you to make better, cost-effective decisions on how to ensure your organisation’s compliance.

3. Understand how your company handles data

The threat to card payment security is evolving all of the time, and it is important to understand that PCI DSS compliance is an ongoing process.
To put yourself in the best position to ensure compliance, take the time to understand how the card payment industry works, and how your organization handles the flow of card data through your network.
A solid grasp of the card payment process will enable you to spot important changes, both in the industry and your organisation, so you can stay on top of your compliance.

4. Invest in training

As part of the PCI DSS, organisations have to put in place formal awareness programmes to ensure that all of your staff understand the importance of maintaining cardholder security and know your organisations policies and procedures in this area.
Training and awareness courses come at a cost, but the investment is worth it if you want to avoid the far costlier consequences of non-compliance.

5. Test regularly

A 2015 PCI Compliance survey by Verizon found that one of the most common compliance mistakes was a failure to regularly test systems.
In fact, many organisations were not even aware of the tests they are required to undertake.
Make sure you are up to date on the detail of the PCI DSS compliance testing requirements and put procedures in place to ensure that these tests are carried out with sufficient frequency.
For an organization of any size, compliance with PCI DSS will take extra time and resources, but the downside of a data security breach can be serious.
By following these five steps, you can put your organisation on a solid foundation and help to ensure that card payments you handle are dealt with safely and securely, protecting you and your customers.