PCI (Payment Card Industry) compliance is mandatory for any business or organization that processes or stores clients’ credit card data. The PCI DSS (Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard) is an industry-wide standard that is meant to protect credit card data of consumers from unauthorized disclosure, use or theft. Meant to safeguard the credit card data of an organization’s or business’ clients, it has stringent requirements that it places on the networks and information systems a company uses to handle credit card data. Other systems in a firm that access the information or interact with the information systems handling credit card data are also audited to ensure the security of the system as a whole.
Most organizations and businesses view PCI DSS compliance simply as a matter of meeting PCI DSS guidelines so as to earn their certificate of compliance. While this is the tangible proof that a firm is PCI DSS compliance, firms should focus more on the fundamental reason PCI DSS exists: to secure a firm’s clients’ data and to protect their intellectual assets and against legal action. Making a last dash effort to try to and be compliant is not a workable strategy.
Risk management best practices are meant to ensure that a firm is not only PCI DSS compliant but also has a secure computing environment to process credit card data. Here are some best practices that will ensure a business’ computing resources and information systems are well-secured. They also act to minimize the risk of financial and non-financial losses a firm may suffer as a result of a security breach in their system. Such costs include damages and claims as a result of law suits, the damage done to a firm’s reputation and fines and charges attracted by such a breach to name but a few.
Continuous System Auditing and Testing
The number of firms that cannot maintain their compliance after the first year is alarmingly high. One of the major reasons that firms fail to retain their PCI compliance status especially after the first year is not constantly ensuring they are compliant and their information systems secure.
This can only be achieved by regularly testing the network and information systems of a firm. This is due to the fact that security threats and a firm’s information technology landscape are constantly shifting. Changing security threats means a system could be vulnerable and result in changed PCI guidelines. To keep up with these changes so as to keep computing resources secure, firms should constantly audit and test their systems. This is so as to ensure they are protected against the most recent threats and are in compliance with the latest PCI guidelines.
Working Closely With the QSA Company and auditor/ PCI Consultant
As mentioned previously, trying to be PCI compliant when audits are close to being carried out poses a security risk to your firm and to clients’ credit card data. Firms should not view PCI compliance as an event they have to get through once a year but rather as a process that serves their operational and long-term growth benefits and goals. A firm should therefore select a QSA company or PCI consultant willing to work with them rather than dictate terms to them.
Comprehensive Penetration Testing and Securing Against Most Recent Threats
Firms should ensure that penetration testing is done by highly experienced and skilled people and that no conflict of interest exists with the QSA. The most current threats are the ones a firm is most likely prone to and thus it is of paramount importance to ensure they are well-guarded against them.