All organizations that accept credit card payments are now required by law to comply with PCI DSS standards as a way of combating credit card fraud. When followed to the letter, Payment Card Industry standards can help prevent cardholder’s private data from being exposed, which can go a long way in reducing incidences of credit card fraud.
However, compliance comes at a cost. Some of the costs associated with PCI DSS compliance include; costs incurred in obtaining, maintaining, and upgrading on-premise payment applications; costs associated with securely storing cardholder data; expenses related to establishing, implementing, and maintaining encryption technology; PCI audit expenses; and costs associated with key management technology.
Considering that the IT department and the organization in general have several other critical areas to budget for, it is important to identify ways of reducing PCI compliance costs.
Tips for reducing PCI compliance costs
There are five recognized ways of reducing PCI compliance costs. There are;
Tokenization simply involves replacing sensitive data with a unique identifier that is mathematically impossible to reverse. In the Payment Card Industry, tokens will take the place of critical credit card data. In most cases, tokens retain the last four digits of the credit card number to be able to correctly match cards with their owners. The remaining digits are then determined using an algorithm.
The benefits of tokenization include among others;
Reduced PCI DSS scope It renders credit card data useless to hackers. Algorithms used are mathematically irreversible. Charge-backs and payment reconciliation can be achieved without necessarily handling payment data. When integrated with Account Updater, it becomes possible to update payment data in case of a failure.
2. Limit your cardholder data storage
PCI Security Standards Council has very few ideas on the Do’s and Don’ts of PCI Data storage. Requirement 3 of PCI DSS demands that merchants “protect stored cardholder data.” To reduce costs, you have two options; to store as little cardholder data as possible or not to store such data at all. By opting not to store, you,by default,contribute to stronger protection because you have eliminated a key target for hackers and other data thieves.
3. Limit the scope of card data environment
As Cisco reports, one of the most crucial factors in PCI is the scope of your Cardholder Data Environment (CDE). The CDE comprises the personnel, systems, and applications with access to the data. Firstly, each of these infrastructure and people must successfully pass an audit in order to become PCI compliant. Secondly, this group must also be proactively protected from the threat of hackers. It’s evident that the larger the CDE, the costlier it becomes to remain PCI compliant.
4. Utilize secure payment gateways
Whichever way you put it, you’re never safe as long as you’re using unsecure routes. Choosing the right gateway for your business can be quite a challenge, but if properly researched one that you should be able to handle easily. Apart from the monthly and annual transaction fees, you need to start looking at the security of the gateway on a regular basis to ensure it remains permanently secure.
5. Utilize a PCI compliant hosting server
In addition to secure gateways, you need to start working with PCI compliant hosting companies. You need to protect your websites right from the word go. A number of website hosting companies now provide PCI complaint dedicated servers and PCI compliant private clouds among other services.
In reality, it’s almost impossible to completely eliminate PCI costs. You’ll still need regular audits anyway and payment applications have become a must-have. But, by following the five tips listed above, you should be able to significantly reduce the organization’s PCI expenses.