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Safety First: PCI Compliance Checklist for Online Businesses

What is PCI Compliance Checklist and Why It’s Important

PCI DSS (Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard) is information security standard originally setup by major card companies (Visa, MasterCard, American Express, Discover, and JCB). It is important because it provides a set of consistently revised guidelines that form a baseline for the security of consumer/ cardholder data.

This means PCI standards help online businesses create a safe environment to process transactions via credit cards. Through strict adherence to these standards, a robust internal information security system can be created and customized for an online business’ specifications. The standards also help keep track of cardholder data’s journey from origin to storage and identify possible prevent interruptions and consequent frauds.


Risks of Being Non-Compliant

The risks can be breach in data security and the resultant loss of trust and reputation. Card companies can even slap hefty fines on non-compliant businesses conducting transaction through their service, which can be severely traumatic for businesses whose scale lean towards the ‘smaller’ side of spectrum.

Note that small merchants and service providers need only be compliant, not necessarily explicitly validated for compliance with PCI standards.


What You Need to Do to Protect Your Data

PCI DSS was released to protect cardholder data and prevent credit fraud. There are 6 major steps, divided into 12 requirements with numerous subsections (that total to over 300) for each one of them.

Take a look:

1.       Building and maintaining a secure network
  • Install and maintain a firewall configuration to protect cardholder data
  • Never use vendor-supplied defaults for system passwords and other security parameters
2.       Protecting cardholder data
  • Protect stored data (Or don’t store it at all)
  • Encrypt transmission of cardholder data across public and open networks
3.       Maintaining a vulnerability-management program
  • Use anti-virus software and keep them updated
  • Keep operating systems and other software updated to most recent version
4.       Access control measures
  • Restrict access to cardholder data (Avail on a need-to-know basis)
  • Assign a unique ID to each person with computer access
  • Restrict physical access to cardholder data
5.       Regular monitoring and network testing
  • Track and monitor all access to network resources and cardholder data
  • Regularly test security systems and processes
6.       12) Maintaining a policy that addresses information security (and keeping clients and personnel aware of it.)


How Does Magento Help Businesses Remain Compliant?

Magento has a payment application/bridge that meets a specific version of the PCI DSS, the PA DSS or Payment Application Data Security Standard. This standard is a stand-alone certification process offered by the regulatory council to eCommerce platforms and applications. Magento’s payment application/bridge is PA DSS certified.

Note that although Magento comes with a PA-DSS compliant application/payment bridge, it does not automatically make you PCI compliant, since a number of PCI controls and requirements lie outside the scope of Magento platform.


The Upshot

Compliance with PCI DSS standards is rewarding in the long run: it helps keep your cardholder data secure and fosters consumers’ trust in your online store. Despite criticisms that call the PCI standards “subjective to interpretation and implementation”, “expensive”, or “confusing”, the standard requirements should be undertaken and maintained continuously.

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