What Does the Future of the Payment Card Industry Hold?

The payment card industry is heavily regulated, and for good reason. The variety of players involved in every payment card transaction and the transmission of the data included in every payment card transaction are each factors that pose risks to the security of cardholder data.

In 2006, major credit card companies agreed to an external oversight body committed to protecting cardholder data and established a series of guidelines for those who store, process, access, or transmit cardholder data focusing on safeguarding data and preventing credit card fraud.

The Payment Card Industry Security Standards Council ensures all parties who process cardholder data take active measures to protect sensitive information through guidelines outlined in the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standards (PCI DSS). Compliance with PCI DSS protects this data to help avoid identity theft and other major financial problems.

Why Do We Need PCI Data Security?

The payment card industry players include vendors, data processors, payment card transaction devices, including networks and infrastructure for all elements through which the data is transmitted. Each of these elements has unique security needs and potential vulnerabilities.

Security vulnerabilities and data breaches are reported like the weather, becoming more frequent every year. The average cost to a business experiencing a data breach is nearing $4 million, and that number doesn’t accurately reflect the long-term financial impact on an organization’s reputation or the personal impact felt by individuals whose identities were stolen.

How Can You Protect Your Business and Your PCI Data?

The guidelines in PCI DSS cover six general areas and objectives, each with key requirements that address data security:

  • Build and Maintain Secure IT Systems and Networks
  • Safeguard Cardholder Information
  • Outline Processes to Identify and Address Security Weaknesses
  • Maintain Strict Access Controls
  • Monitor and Test Networks Regularly
  • Establish an Official Information Security Policy

What Should Be PCI DSS Compliant?

Every business is different, and you should focus on your IT environment and your technology. Chances are your IT system includes some of these:

  • Desktop or laptop computers
  • Web-based software or applications
  • Mobile devices like smartphones or tablets
  • Remote access connections
  • Wireless networks

Where one device connects to another using a network, each element is called an endpoint. When data is transmitted over a network between endpoints it’s easier to see the multiple opportunities for security vulnerabilities, underscoring the need for strong access controls and data security.

What Can I Do to Ensure My Business is Compliant?

Compliance can seem like a complicated process, but the requirements are defined in greater detail in the PCI DSS Quick Reference Guide, a handy guide that covers the full PCI DSS requirements in a more consolidated and easy-to-digest format.

Much of what you can do is what you’ve learned from recent data breaches in the news:

  • Log traffic with unique User IDs
  • Training on security best practices, including requiring unique passwords for individual devices, and require passwords to be updated at regular intervals
  • Keep all devices and software security up to date

Remember, your primary goal is to protect your business and your data. Meeting PCI DSS requirements for compliance is a huge step in the right direction while simultaneously safeguarding payment card cardholder data, reducing the risk that this sensitive data can be stolen.

The future of the Payment Card Industry is data security – are you ready?

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