What is a PCI compliant business? In today’s fast paced, digital environment, a company needs to keep up with current security measures or risk a wide range of problems. PCI compliance is a mandated standard that guides companies toward implementing sufficiently strong security measures.
However, becoming PCI compliant is more than just a nice suggestion. The Payment Card Industry saw what was happening in the e-commerce community, and knew that if large companies (or any companies for that matter) were to continue suffering security breaches, consumers could lose any or all confidence in shopping with credit cards.
In response to this threat to the industry, the five major credit card companies developed the PCI DSS (Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard) and any company that stores, transmits, or otherwise processes credit cards must be PCI compliant.
The Payment Card Industry has instituted a number of incentives to encourage companies to reach compliance. These incentives can include stiff fines and penalties, possibly the loss of the ability to accept credit cards at all, or protection from said penalties if a breach should occur after compliance.
But becoming a PCI compliant business can be a long and arduous road. There are over 200 individual security controls making up 12 requirements. These all cover different but necessary aspects of protecting your customers’ important, sensitive data.
The requirements can range from something as simple as installing a firewall to something more broad and all-encompassing like “Protect cardholder data.” That could mean anything, and has many controls to specify everything it includes.
So what is the point of becoming a PCI compliant business if it can be such a difficult process?
The point is actually quite simple. Consumers in this day and age are a suspicious bunch. Everyone knows they have to protect their personal information because personal information is one of the hottest, most liquid commodities for criminals to go after. If they are going to trust a business, they need to know that their information is safe.
But today’s consumer is also not likely to spend the time and effort to research your business practices before making a purchase. They are much more likely to simply assume that you aren’t as secure as you could be. It saves a lot of effort.
Or what if they actually did do a little research? If you don’t have any sort of standard to live up to, all they have to go on is your word that you’ve taken all the necessary security precautions. Sometimes that’s enough. Sometimes it isn’t.
A PCI compliant business, on the other hand, can tell their customers that they are living up to a very high standard of security, and that they are subject to routine checks, audits, and tests to ensure that those security measures are maintained. Even if a consumer doesn’t know or comprehend the full ramifications of what the PCI DSS actually entails, they can easily learn that it is a standard created by the credit card industry. In other words, the people who issued the very cards they are using are saying that these merchants are doing what they should to guard customers’ personal information.
As we progress in this fast-paced, digital environment, consumer information is going to become a priority for everyone, from the customers to the merchants to the Payment Card Industry. Your choices, then, are to become a PCI compliant business now, or wait and see if your company can survive in the long run without customer trust.
The Payment Card Industry is very aware of the need for sufficient security measures, and they’ve instituted a number of fines and penalties to encourage merchants to become compliant. Though in truth, the PCI compliant business is one that did not need these encouragements in the first place. They are the business that recognized the PCI DSS as good for their customers as well as for their own success.