Information Security Standard for All to Adhere To: Learn How to Become PCI Compliant in 5 Easy Steps

Data breaches are very common and any company can fall victim of such at any given time. These could expose your customers to identity theft. Which is never a good thing both to your business and your customers, especially if your business accepts credit card payments. However, you can reduce the possibilities of suffering data breaches by becoming PCI compliant. PCI stands for Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard – a set of industry standards used to measure the security of businesses that accept credit card payments. There are easy steps that you can take to become PCI compliant and stay safe as explained below. Please read on.

1. Know Your Merchant Level

There are four categories of merchants – level 1, 2, 3 & 4 – and your level will be determined from your VISA card transaction within the last 12-month period. You should discuss and confirm your level with the clearinghouse or bank handling your credit card transactions. Knowing your level will enable you to know how stringent your PCI compliance programs should be. If your business is using other credit cards like Discover, MasterCard, and American Express, you’ll still have to comply with the PCI requirements lest you face the penalties for PCI DSS violations. You can visit Ivrnet to learn more about PCI compliance and how it may apply to your industry.

2. Build and Maintain a Secure Network

A secure network is vital for the security of your business information and that of your customers. Your firewalls should be operational and regularly updated. You’ll have to look for a trusted contractor whom you’ll be working with. The contractor will ensure all installations and updates are done properly to prevent any possible vulnerabilities. Employees should not be allowed to disable the firewalls for whatever reason. Ensure to change the passwords provided by the vendors as soon as possible and use strong alpha-numeric-character combinations that can hardly be predicted. 

3. Protect Cardholder Data and Maintain a Vulnerability Management Program

Cardholder information must always be maintained in locked files that cannot be accessed by any employee. Ensure to encrypt and protect this data behind your business firewalls at all times. You need to have appropriate management software and an anti-virus protecting your system and all the important information. To prevent any compromise in the system, you need to have a vulnerability management program that prohibits adding other software.

4. Implement Strong Access Control Measures

Ensure to restrict any password access to your system to protect both your employees and clients. The employees should only access what they need at a particular time. This restriction will be vital whenever there’s a data breach in reducing the possibilities of the breach and making investigation much easier. With the current advancement in technology, you can have a unique ID number for each of your network users and terminals. Ensure to also keep physical records containing client and cardholder information secure. You can accomplish this by using a physical lock and key or a card key system. Automation of different processes makes work much easier and more convenient.

5. Monitor and Test Your Networks Regularly

You’ll need to implement regular tests and scans on your security program to track and monitor the flow of client information through the network. You should dedicate some time – both when the system is at low use and in real time when it’s in use for the test which your technical team or vendor will oversee. You should then maintain a log of your test results which will be essential when it comes to developing your Information Security Policy – document showing all the measures taken to keep your customer information secure,

Conclusion

If your business accepts credit card payments, it’s important to adhere to the PCI payment security standard. This will prevent your customers from being vulnerable and the possibility of your business being held liable should your company’s data be breached. Being PCI compliant is a simple process – as shown in the steps above – that you should consider no matter the volume of your transactions. Good luck as you begin the PCI compliance steps today!