Suppose your organization handles payment processing, card transactions, storage, authentication, or credit card data electronic transmission. In that case, you’ll be very familiar with PCI DSS (formally known as the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard). This standard protects debit and credit store cardholder data from unauthorized access via data breaches, ransomware, and other security breaches.

For many organizations, achieving PCI compliance feels like an onerous, burdensome chore. Achieving compliance, however, brings valuable benefits beyond protecting your customers’ card brands and data. It helps your business avoid enforcement action from regulators and lawsuits from aggrieved customers, or business partners. Ultimately, PCI compliance can reduce the total cost of any data breach. According to one report from IBM and the Ponemon Institute, the average price of a data breach among companies surveyed reached $4.24 million per incident in 2021.

How to Become Compliant with PCI DSS

The latest version of the PCI standard is known as PCI DSS 4.0, released in March 2022. Retailers, merchant banks, and others handling payment card data must achieve compliance with that standard by March 2025.

To ensure that your organization meets the requirements of the current PCI DSS standard, here are five steps you can take:

  1. Determine your scope. Carefully research all PCI requirements to determine which pertain to your organization; not all requirements will. While this research does take time, it will make a big difference in the long run by saving you a significant amount of work at audit time or as you complete your Self-Assessment Questionnaire (SAQ).
  2. Minimize your scope. Your team can take several steps to minimize the risk to your payment card data and devices, including installing firewalls to limit access to your Cardholder Data Environment (CDE), encrypting all payment card data, and disposing of all cardholder data promptly and effectively. The smaller your scope, the lower your costs.
  3. Determine how well you meet applicable requirements. Always examine each item on your list of relevant PCI directives and ask, “How well does my organization comply?”
  4. Test all CDE-related controls. Your evidence must always be current. So even if you have audited relevant controls before, you must test each security control regularly.
  5. Gather your evidence. Having documentation of your compliance-level efforts and results on hand will save your auditor time, work, and enterprise money.

What are the Three Main Areas of PCI Compliance?

You’ll need to perform many steps to comply with the PCI standard; the three principal issues for PCI compliance are as follows.

Dealing With Card Data

Payment card data must be handled carefully, and a business shouldn’t handle card data unless necessary. Third-party solutions, like ZenComply from Reciprocity, securely accept and store the data, removing a significant amount of complexity, expense, and risk assessment related to PCI compliance. In addition, a company avoiding card data would only need to certify its compliance with 22 simple security rules, such as employing secure networks and passwords, because the card data’s unique id never touches its systems.

Securing Data Storage

An enterprise must specify the scope of its cardholder data environment (CDE) if it manages or saves credit card data. According to PCI DSS, CDE refers to any system components linked to a system that stores, processes, or transmits credit card data. Therefore, it’s critical to keep your payment environment separate from the rest of the company’s IT systems. This reduces the scope of PCI validation because all 300+ security PCI DSS controls apply to CDE. You don’t want to enforce those controls on every computer, laptop, and device on your organization’s corporate network! Segregate and secure your payment environment to avoid that.

Annual Verification

Organizations must yearly submit a PCI validation form, regardless of how card data is accepted. There are a lot of variables that affect how PCI compliance is assessed, some of which are listed below. Here are three situations when a company can be required to provide evidence of PCI compliance:

  • Payment processors may request it as part of their mandated reporting to the payment brands.
  • Business partners may demand it before engaging in commercial transactions.
  • Customers may ask for it from platform firms (those whose technology enables online transactions between various groups of users) to demonstrate to their clients that data processing is safe.

How to Achieve PCI DSS Compliance Using ZenComply

PCI compliance is a considerable undertaking, with many controls to test and document and many remediation steps you need to be sure take place. Managing all that effort with spreadsheets and manual processes is folly; there’s too much work, and important issues will go overlooked. You need a dedicated tool to help.

ZenComply is a cutting-edge governance, risk, and compliance management system that offers the most precise PCI evaluation tool. To determine where you are in deciding who needs PCI DSS compliance criteria and where you and your vendors fall short, Zen regularly monitors your public networks and procedures.

Zen’s dashboards with a color-coded “single source of truth” explain how to fix compliance holes quickly and update automatically as the framework evolves. Furthermore, it performs internal audits rapidly and as often as possible while examining the controls around your Cardholder Data Environment (CDE).

Schedule a demo to learn more about how ZenComply may help your Compliance Management Software.