How PCI Compliance Keeps You Safe

With over two quintillion bytes of data being created every day, cybercriminals are continuously coming up with ways to wreak havoc on innocent consumers.  In the payment industry, for instance, easy access to data by hackers seems to have spurred credit card fraud. Today, approximately 46% of Americans have been victims of this type of crime. With the number of credit payments set to increase, even more, it’s crucial now more than ever for businesses to secure consumer data. If your business accepts credit card payments, being PCI compliant is your best bet against credit card fraud and data breaches.

What is PCI Compliance?

PCI means payment card industry. Thus, PCI compliance refers to a set of guidelines created by the PCI standards council in 2006 to ensure that businesses accepting credit card payments secure consumer data. In other words, when a company is PCI compliant, it merely means that it adheres to the technical and operational requirements that businesses are expected to follow to protect credit card data from theft.

Levels of PCI Compliance

There are four levels of PCI compliance. If you accept credit card payments, you’re expected to comply with at least one of the levels below. This is depending on the number of credit or debit transaction your business processes annually.

Level 1

If your business processes over 6000,000 credit or debit card transactions yearly, then you’re expected to comply with the rules and regulations on PCI level 1. You’re also on level 1 if you process less or more than 6 million transactions but happen to be a victim of credit card fraud that resulted in compromised data.

Businesses on this level handle more consumer data than those on any other level. It’s, therefore, no surprise that regulations on PCI compliance level 1 are more stringent than on any other level.

Any merchant on this level is expected to complete a yearly PCI DSS validation process which should be conducted by a qualified security assessor. They should also ensure they implement a quarterly network scan by an Approved scanning vendor. On top of that, they are also required to file the attestation of compliance form.

Level 2

Any entity that processes between 1 and 6 million transactions annually is on the second tier of PCI Compliance. If you’re on this level, you’re expected to file a self-assessment questionnaire(SAQ) at least once a year and conduct at least one pen test via an approved scan vendor. Additionally, you should complete the attestation of compliance form.

Level 3

Businesses on the third tier usually process 20,000 to 1 million e-commerce transactions annually. They’re expected to complete the SAQ annually, conduct a pen test via an ASV and again file the attestation form.

Level 4

This is the lowest level of compliance according to the guidelines put across by the PCI council. Most small and medium-sized businesses processing less than 20,000 e-commerce transactions are under this category. Also, any startup or business that has never suffered a data breach but processes approximately 1 million visa or mastercard credit transactions yearly is on this tier. For them to be fully compliant with the regulations on this level they must have

  • Completed a self assessment questionnaire form
  • Conducted quarterly network scans through an approved scanning vendor.

Being the lowest level of compliance, business owners on this level are not required to file an attestation form. They also don’t have to carry out an onsite audit.

Why is PCI Compliance of the Essence to Your Business?

On the surface, PCI compliance might seem like an extra cost that’s not necessary to your business. Beyond the surface, however, being compliant with PCI regulations packs a whole bunch of perks as shown below

Boosts Business Growth

Each one of us wants to feel appreciated. This is an instinct that comes with being human. Thus when you’re PCI compliant, customers will feel that you’ve gone the extra mile to protect their data and money. PCI compliance also demonstrates an ongoing commitment to safeguarding their well-being. This boosts their trust in you and they, in turn, become more confident in whatever you bring to the table. As a result, you get to retain customers, which automatically means you attract new ones and grow your business even more.

Keeps You on the Safe Side with the Authorities

Even though both you and your customer lose whenever a data breach occurs, it’s vital to note you lose even more. Why? Well, first, your clients lose trust in you, which means they’re less likely to work with you again or recommend you to potential clientele.

Also, as noted, PCI compliance is a set of universally accepted guidelines that every business is accepting credit or debit cards is expected to follow. Thus, when a data breach occurs because you failed to comply, you’ll pay steep fines to the Federal Trade Commission. You may also pay a heavy price when angry customers decide to take legal action against you.  Being compliant saves you all this trouble.

Enhances Business Reputation

Consumers aren’t the only ones who are impressed by a PCI compliant business as other prominent businesses will also take note.  For instance, entities that are PCI compliant are usually held in high esteem by credit card companies and other financial institutions. This means that such companies will confidently endorse them to potential customers and partners. This, in turn, goes a long way in boosting brand reputation as everyone wants to work with a business that’s been endorsed by another reputable corporation. Hence, when your PCI compliant, you’ll not only avoid steep fines but will also get to grow your business and enhance your brand’s reputation.

Discover More about PCI Compliance Today

In a nutshell, being PCI Compliant is for your good. Failing to comply not only means paying steep fines but may also mean your ability to accept credit card payments being revoked. To avoid such trouble, conduct an analysis and determine how many transactions you process annually and then comply with the level that fits you.

Author Bio

Ken Lynch is an enterprise software startup veteran, who has always been fascinated about what drives workers to work and how to make work more engaging. Ken founded Reciprocity to pursue just that. He has propelled Reciprocity’s success with this mission-based goal of engaging employees with the governance, risk, and compliance goals of their company in order to create more socially minded corporate citizens. Ken earned his BS in Computer Science and Electrical Engineering from MIT. Learn more at ReciprocityLabs.com.