This article will introduce to you probably the easiest way to become PCI DSS Certified. So, if you are a merchant seeking to understand the whole process, it may be enough for you just to follow this simple instruction. It will describe the stages you need to go through, will provide you with hints and tips, will touch upon some never-ending issues, such as the question of PCI compliance software vendors, generalize some basic information about PCI-DSS, and eventually smooth as many corners as possible to make this journey enjoyable and easy for you.
To start with, PCI DSS is the common data security standard of the payment card industry. The standard is a set of 12 detailed requirements for ensuring the security of data on payment card holders. This standard is common to all who deal with money transfers. It has been compiled and developed by the Council and provides users with a certain guarantee of data protection when carrying out such transactions using credit cards.
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Without certification, you simply cannot indulge in such activities, because credit card companies will not allow this to happen. Therefore, this standard can be considered a real effective regulator. It is not a pack of recommendations or something of that kind, but real rules. Simply because it’s the price of trust, and that’s how this business works. In addition, for non-compliance, you may even receive a fine. So if an organization wants to be able to accept card payments, such certification is really necessary. Actually, even vital.
Of course, the PCI certification process is a responsible matter, it takes a significant amount of time, but there are still opportunities to simplify this path. For example, it can be structured and likened to an instruction, which we have done for you. It is also important to be sure of the PCI compliance software company you choose for yourself, as we have already mentioned. Remember: it’s all about trust and experience, so choose carefully.
The board that drafted this standard was made up of the largest and most well-known credit card companies that we deal with almost every day. Over the years, they have tried to improve it in order to avoid data leakage. So that the user can feel safe about his or her personal data and trust this method of payment. It is obvious that this standard is the product of intensive brainstorming by the biggest players in the field, and it has no other alternatives. What makes those requirements the only generally accepted ones, for sure. In addition, the work does not stop, and the standard is being regularly improved, presenting to the world more and more new versions of itself. The last of them was revealed only four years ago.
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As we have already stated, the PCI DSS itself consists of twelve specific demands with various instructions to achieve reliable data protection and take care of the needed security. Together, all these requirements and lists of rules form a single wide-ranging network for regulating transactions and the proper handling of the data that has to be dealt with. Of course, your organization must follow these rules and regulations. But first, obviously, you need to familiarize yourself with them.
But let’s proceed to our four-steps guide. First of all, study all twelve requirements. They are necessary. For full certification and compliance with all demands, you must take into account all additional sub-requirements, which in total amount to exactly two hundred and fifty-one, checking with the latest four years old version of the standard.
All the main requirements can be summarized as follows: To protect the information, that is, private data, you need a firewall. Install it and keep it running. Be careful with passwords and other security measures. Spend time on them, because they should be reliable. In no case do not neglect them and do not use the originally proposed passwords – they are much less reliable than those compiled by yourself. Points three and four urge you to manage proper protection and encryption of gathered data. Have certain anti-virus programs installed, update them and be sure to use them. You will also need other security apps because your security system must be robust and comprehensive. Complicate and restrict access to data. In no case should outsiders have the opportunity to get hold of private information – special attention should be paid to the restrictions concerning physical access. Everyone who has access to the computer must have their own identification number. This is also a necessary security measure. Monitor all access to data, periodically check the health and effectiveness of security systems, and develop your own data protection policy. Generally, that’s it, but we strongly recommend that you familiarize yourself with the entire original list of requirements yourself.
The second step – understand your own compliance requirements, because different types of businesses have corresponding lists of demands. You may need to fill out SAQ (look it up and consult with your payment card vendor). The list of needed documents and detailed instructions may be found in the open sources. SAQ will be a part of your general attestation, though for large merchants there are different requirements.
Thirdly, prepare. What exactly we mean is that you should understand weak places and dangers in your environment. You’d better assess all the risks to the security in order to minimize them. Then you would be able to build up a specifically adapted plan.
And the last, fourth stage, is to complete your SAQ. If you are a large merchant (the levels are determined by the volume of transactions your organization conducts annually) ROC will be required. And then AOC, the attestation, awaits.
So, the whole process is not as complicated as it is time-consuming. But you can be sure: the result is worth it because accepting credit cards today is a requirement of our time. It’s more than just important – sometimes it seems to be vital. And you just need to follow these simple steps carefully.