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What Exactly Is PCI Compliance?

Any organization that handles credit/debit card information must be PCI compliant. So, what is PCI, and why is it essential for your Colorado business?

While it’s true that the rise in cyberattacks has affected almost all industries, the financial sector is the biggest casualty. Credit card fraud tops the list of the most widespread financial crimes. It’s either bad cyber actors have honed their skills or stakeholders in this industry have let down their guards.

Whatever the case, we are staring at a possible cybersecurity crisis in the financial sector. To address this, major BankCard Groups developed Payment Card Industry Data Security Standards. PCI DSS is a guide for merchants on how to process, transmit, and store cardholder information safely and securely. It is a requirement for all businesses that accept card payments.

Colorado Computer Services has been helping organizations in and around Colorado with PCI and other compliance issues for almost two decades now. Today, we address this question that we’ve been receiving almost daily — what is PCI compliance? Here’s a short video to get us started:

YouTube video

How Can Your Colorado Business Stay PCI Compliant?

PCI has over 400 test procedures; it’s a vast and complex concept. For clarity, we have summarized them into six broad categories:

  1. You must safeguard cardholder information.
  2. You must develop and sustain a secure network.
  3. You must have a reliable and responsive program to manage system vulnerabilities.
  4. You must control and limit access to cardholder information.
  5. You must regularly assess and monitor your systems for threats.
  6. You must maintain a reliable information security policy.

These PCI requirements further vary depending on your organization’s size and the volume of card payments you process.

Let’s start with small businesses relying on standalone bankcard terminals from the BankCard Group:

  • Any Employee Dealing With Cardholder Information Must Have a Unique ID: So, it’s easier to monitor their logons and login activities.
  • You Must Have Robust Password-Protection for Any Device That Processes Card Payments: The best way is by having password complexity and expiration protocols. Also, do not use generic passcodes from gadget systems.
  • Control and Monitor Access to Cardholder Information, Both Physically and Electronically: Such details should only be available on a need-to-know basis. You must also have access-monitoring systems that record all access attempts, both failed and successful, and user activities.
  • Maintain Comprehensive Written Policies and Procedures on How Your Organization Handles Bank Card Information.

Organizations using Point-of-Sales Systems or third-party software must implement the following extra security measures:

  • All Your Bank Card Transaction Information Must Be Encrypted Before it Reaches the Bankcard Group: Usually, card payment brands preprogram their terminals to encrypt all processes. If you’re using third-party software, you do the encryption by yourself.
  • Your Systems Must Be Scanned Every Quarter of the Year by a Pci-Certified Scanning Company: After the scan, you must register a PCI compliance certificate with your BankCard Group.
  • All Devices Processing Card Payments Must Be Firewall-Protected: You should also install and maintain up-to-date antivirus software just in case your firewall is breached.

Why Must Your Colorado Business Stay PCI Compliant?

PCI requirements are just your standard security measures modeled to fit specific scenarios. Being compliant, therefore, is like working on enhancing the safety of your network.

Even though PCI is not a state or federal law subject to government enforcement, non-compliance can attract very stiff penalties from the BankCard Groups. They could even ban your business from using their card payment services, temporarily or permanently.

Because PCI defines cardholder credentials as personal information, non-compliance with this standard qualifies as a breach of GDPR. Therefore, you also risk GDPR enforcement actions — fines of up to $23,294,00 or 4% of your annual turnover.

You don’t have to wait for these repercussions to catch up with you and risk denting your public image. Especially with Colorado Computer Support helping businesses achieve full PCI compliance at affordable rates. We also fix issues identified by compliance auditors.

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