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VisiCom Services has been serving the Rochester Hills area since 1994, providing IT Support such as technical helpdesk support, computer support, and consulting to small and medium-sized businesses.

PCI Compliance 101

PCI Compliance 101

Does your business accept credit cards? Of course it does. Regardless of what industry you are in, your customers are now using payment cards for a large portion of their retail transactions both online and in-store. To protect consumers, there has been a compliance standard enacted by credit card companies. Today we will look at this standard.

Introducing PCI DSS

With so many people using credit, debit, and prepaid gift cards to pay for goods and services, the economic ramifications of digital payment fraud, data loss, and other side effects of continued reliance on these methods of payment have led the companies that issue these cards to band together to create what is now known as the PCI Security Standards Council. Since its inception in 2006 the PCI Security Standards Council has been overseeing the establishment and coordination of the PCI DSS, or Payment Card Industry Digital Security Standard. Let’s take a look at how PCI compliance works.

Taking a Look at PCI 

PCI DSS was established in 2006 by credit card companies as a way to regulate business use of personal payment card information. That means all businesses. If your business processes or stores payment card information as a means of accepting digital payment, you need to maintain your PCI compliance. PCI DSS demands that businesses satisfactorily take the following steps:

  1. Change passwords from system default
  2. Install all sufficient network security tools (antivirus, firewalls, etc.) that will work to protect card data
  3. Encrypt transmission of card data across public networks
  4. Restrict the transmission of card and cardholder data to “need to know” basis
  5. Assign user ID to all users with server or database access
  6. Make efforts to protect physical and digital access to card and cardholder data
  7. Monitor and maintain system security
  8. Test system security regularly
  9. Create written policies and procedures that address the importance of securing cardholder data
  10. Train your staff on best practices of accepting payment cards

While many businesses already do these things in the normal course of doing business, if you currently don’t and you still allow for the use of payment cards, your business could have a problem on its hands. 

Business Size and Compliance 

Once you understand what you need to do to be PCI compliant, you then need to comply with the standards of your business’ merchant status. They are defined as follows:

  • Merchant Level #1 - A business that processes over six million payment card transactions per year.
  • Merchant Level #2 - A business that processes between one million-to-six million payment card transactions per year.
  • Merchant Level #3 - A business that processes between 20,000-to-one million e-commerce payment card transactions per year.
  • Merchant Level #4 - A business that processes less than 20,000 e-commerce payment transactions, and fewer than one million overall payment card transactions per year.

Since a business with more transactions has a better chance to foul up a situation concerning payment card compliance, they are required to do more to prove compliance than smaller businesses do. Here are the expectations for businesses in each merchant level:

Merchant Level #1

Doing massive business online and otherwise brings with it more responsibility. To maintain PCI compliance, Level one merchants need to:

  • Perform a yearly Report on Compliance (ROC) through a Qualified Security Assessor (QSA)
  • Allow an Approved Security Vendor (ASV) to complete a quarterly network scan
  • Complete the Attestation of Compliance Form for PCI Council records

Merchant Level #2

As transactions begin to decrease there are less stringent standards. Level twos include:

  • Perform a yearly Self-Assessment Questionnaire (SAQ)
  • Allow an ASV to complete a quarterly network scan
  • Complete the Attestation of Compliance Form for PCI Council records

Merchant Level #3

Many medium-sized businesses will fall under this level and need to:

  • Perform an SAQ
  • Allow an ASV to complete a quarterly network scan
  • Complete the Attestation of Compliance Form for PCI Council records

Merchant Level #4

The majority of small businesses fall into level #4 status and, like levels two and three, need to:

  • Perform a SAQ
  • Allow an ASV to complete a quarterly network scan
  • Complete the Attestation of Compliance Form for PCI Council record

Businesses that are non-compliant will face fines, extra scrutiny, or risk having the privilege of accepting payment cards officially revoked. If you have questions about the particulars of PCI DSS compliance, call the knowledgeable professionals at VisiCom Services today at 248.299.0300.

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