How Important is PCI DSS Compliance?

Estimated reading time: 5 mins

Why is PCI DSS compliance so critical today? It’s because it helps build trust between businesses and their customers. Without trust, it’s extremely difficult to flourish as a business in the 21st century. People want to feel they’re handing over their payment data to a credible business that’ll always keep it protected. If you lose your customers’ trust, you’ll have to move mountains to regain it. One survey found that 7 out 10 customers discontinue their loyalty to companies whose customer data was comprised.

Help Customers Trust your Brand

You sure want to keep every security-conscious customer happy and coming back, right? You then must have in place highly effective security controls, particularly regarding customer payment data.

Luckily, there are a plethora of data security tools on the market. However, it’s not always easy to determine what solution is best for your specific payment data security situation.

It’s best to create a complete PCI DSS compliance strategy. A carefully thought-out and executed strategy should culminate in PCI DSS certification. And there’s no better way to boost trust with your customers.

What’s PCI DSS Certification?

Standards help industries operate professionally and ethically. And the payment card industry is no exception. That’s why top credit card companies created the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard.

The standard consists of a slew of guidelines that describe how companies that handle cardholder data must protect that information.

Essentially, the standard focuses on 4 main aspects namely data collection, processing, storage, and transfer. To be fully compliant, every company must meet the standard’s 281 distinct requirements and 12 objectives.

Adherence to these guidelines protects everyone involved— investors, cardholders, credit card companies, and businesses. Investors face appreciably less risk of financial loss because the businesses they fund avoid trouble with authorities. And credit companies get an opportunity to guard their reputation. Most important, customers enjoy peace of mind. Everyone wins.

Why PCI DSS Certification Matters

Customer payment data breaches aren’t uncommon. And when they happen, businesses can incur massive losses on top of losing customer trust and loyalty.

Imagine what would happen if cybercriminals accessed your customers personal information. Imagine these social miscreants taking out credit card debt using that information! Imagine your customers eventually finding out you’re culpable. See them in your mind’s eye complaining all over the web and on Facebook and Twitter. Scary thoughts, huh?

You’re right — your business suffers near-irreversible harm. Yes, you can somehow regain your customers trust down the road. However, it’ll take vast resources, reputation management talent, and time to correct the situation.

You may also expect endless lawsuits filed by all affected parties. In addition, such data breaches could have relevant authorities slap you with disastrously huge fines. And if the fine is too big, paying it might even sink your business.

How do I avoid such terrifying scenarios, you ask. It’s easy. Make sure your entity is 100% compliant. Your best bet is to do whatever it takes to become a PCI DSS-certified business.

Think About Vendor Compliance, Too

It’s easy to obsess over your company’s compliance and forget about your vendors’ compliance. If your vendors can access your payment data, you must ensure they’re fully compliant with the guidelines mentioned above.

No one ever wants to do business with a non-compliant vendor. That’s why you MUST vet them thoroughly before signing any contract with them.

Compliance Levels

There are four levels of PCI compliance. Each of these levels amounts to a whole set of stringent requirements. And each level necessitates laser-focused diligence. However, level 1 translates to a lot more strictness.

If the number of credit card transactions you handle hovers between 1,000,000 – 6, 000,000, you must observe all level-2 guidelines.

Likewise, if your annual credit card transactions are fewer than 20,000, you must fulfill all level-4 requirements. And if your transactions range between 20,000 and 1,000,000, you automatically jump to level 3.

But if your company sees more than 6,000,000 credit card transactions each year, you must comply with all Level-1 requirements. The same goes for companies have experienced payment data breach before.

Level 1 compliance has you spending way more time and money than any other level. Obviously, you must start doing everything humanly possible to thwart data breach occurrences.

PCI DSS Compliance Continues Forever

PCI DSS compliance is not an exercise you do just once and shift your concentration elsewhere. It’s an aspect you must stay on top of every passing day.

Remember: cybercriminals keep learning, getting smarter. They’re at this very moment devising more lethal techniques to launch attacks. So, keep your eyes peeled for any emerging or likely security threats. Also, continually review, audit, and update your security controls.

Regulations Are Always Evolving

New compliance regulations and updates are always being introduced. Consequently, you should review these regulations from time to time. Except in certain limited situations, an accused person can’t argue they were ignorant of a particular law in court. Similarly, you can’t say you didn’t know that a specific security requirement existed.

One way to stay informed is to listen to what security professionals are saying. That might mean joining a few security-related communities and forums online. Another great way to learn what’s new is to attend security and compliance workshops. And of course, you must listen to your compliance team and make changes where necessary.

Wrap Up

Your customers expect you to do everything possible to ensure their payment data is always under lock and key. PCI DSS compliance is a process you must take very seriously. Compliance requirements keep changing, though. That means you must update your knowledge continually.

That being said, card payment data protection is just one aspect of security and compliance. To help your business sidestep data-related catastrophes, you must design a comprehensive cybersecurity strategy

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