If your business uses or processes any credit card information, you are required to comply with Payment Card Industry Data Security Standards (PCI DSS). PCI DSS is considered to be one of the essential components to security compliance. It refers to regulations developed to ensure that companies who store, process, or transmit credit card information maintain a secure IT environment. Let us explore how to determine if your business is PCI compliant and what it takes to get there.
Who Needs to Be PCI Compliant?
I will start with the basics. Does your company have a Merchant ID? If it does, guess what? By virtue of that merchant ID, you are required to be PCI DSS compliant. In addition, if you outsource any of your IT needs to a third-party vendor, you must take steps to ensure that the vendors you work with are also PCI DSS compliant. This is especially important as cloud computing becomes a popular business solution, as there are risks associated with reliance on the cloud when it comes to maintaining PCI.
The data security standards are very clear. However, many businesses struggle to attain compliance, citing confusion about the requirements, uncertainty about what data to monitor and, of course, limited resources to dedicate to this major task. According to the PCI Security Council, “Many organizations treat compliance as a one-time, annual event. But only focusing on an annual compliance assessment can create a false sense of security.”
What’s the bottom line? No matter how limited your resources, how overwhelming the amount of data you need to monitor, or how confusing you find the entire process, you must be you must be vigilant to maintain PCI DSS standards year-round. Let us explore further.
The Components of PCI Compliance
PCI compliance is a continuous process made up of three steps: assessment, remediation, and reporting. In the initial evaluation, you need to do an inventory of your company’s IT resources, cardholder data, and payment processing, and then analyze each for any areas of weakness or susceptibility for breach. Once you have identified any areas of vulnerability, you must fix the problems and then submit reports to the required bank and bank card companies.
Critical Considerations for PCI Compliance
To achieve PCI compliance, you must be sure that your business:
- Maintains a secure network. Your hosting provider should have an appropriate firewall to protect cardholder data, as well as, complex system passwords for entry into your financial system.
- Takes measures to protect data. Cardholder data must be stored securely and must be encrypted while in transit over public networks.
- Has an auditing process. Not only should you conduct regular audits yourself, you should require all third-party vendors to regularly assess their own vulnerabilities and provide regular audit reports back to you. Assessments, anti-virus software updates, and secure system maintenance are absolute necessities.
- Implements strong access control measures. Access to the system should be restricted only to those who need the information to complete a task successfully. In addition, each user should have a unique ID to gain access to the system.
- Monitors and tests for flaws frequently. It’s critical to regularly run security checks and monitor all access to cardholder data.
- Has established information security policies. Make sure that information security policies are explicitly written, reviewed often, and regularly updated to reflect changes in the industry and PCI DSS regulations.
The good news? According to the PCI Security Standards Council, PCI DSS was updated in 2016 to improve directions for companies working to achieve compliance, with a particular focus on PCI DSS Requirement 10, which addresses log collection and monitoring processes.
The Council has put together a special interest group called “Effective Daily Log Monitoring” tasked with developing an information supplement with instructions on techniques that can be used to meet requirements and improve daily log monitoring. The Information Supplement includes examples and evidence from daily breaches, as well as, a listing of available tools.
Lastly, it is important to note that while you are required to be in compliance with PCI DSS regulations, PCI compliance does not guarantee you will not experience a cardholder data breach. According to Experian’s 2016 Data Breach Industry Forecast, the frequency and sophistication of security incidents continue to advance at what seems like breakneck speed. Want a wake-up call? According to the 2018 Cost of Data Breach Study published by IBM and the Ponemon Institute, the global average cost of a data breach is $3.86 million, up 6.4 percent from last year. The average cost, globally, for each lost or stolen record containing sensitive and confidential information is also up from last year, landing at $148 per record. This is a 4.8 percent increase from 2017.
Additional Safeguards to Ensure PCI Compliance
In addition to meeting or exceeding the PCI DSS regulations, here are two safeguards you should consider implementing in order to achieve PCI compliance:
- Encrypt Everything. One of the critical tactics to avoiding an information breach is to encrypt files at every step in the process. Data should, of course, be encrypted while traveling over public networks, but you must take it a step further and encrypt it locally, as well as, over private networks.
- Practice Continual Monitoring. Businesses cite continual monitoring as one of the biggest barriers to PCI compliance, but this is probably the most important step you can take to avoid a breach. With so many points of data transmission, IT professionals view monitoring access as a daunting task. But when you practice this, it not only mitigates your risk, it helps ensure compliance.
As challenging as it is to maintain PCI DSS compliance, with the constant influx of new security threats and vulnerabilities, your company needs to be prepared to respond and address these risks and as data breach costs continue to rise, the stakes become even higher. What are the biggest challenges you and your team face when it comes to PCI Compliance?
Ensure Compliance LightEdge’s World-Class PCI DSS Compliant Data Centers
As a top-tier colocation services provider, we provide a high level of availability and reliability through secure, certified data centers and dedicated staff onsite. Our customized and scalable services give you the control, whether you need a colocation rack, cage, or custom suite now or in the future.
Tracking and monitoring all access to network resources and cardholder data, including the regular testing of controls, systems, and processes is critical. Our colocation centers have a plan in place that tracks and monitors all access to network resources and cardholder data. Log files, system traces or any tool enabling the tracking of access to sensitive data is critical in preventing, detecting, or minimizing a data breach. The availability of logs enables tracking, alerting, and analysis when an intrusion occurs. LightEdge also regularly tests our security systems and processes
LightEdge’s highly trained compliance and security experts take the guesswork out of keeping your business protected. Trust our expertise to ensure you are covered through our security and compliance services, including risk management, information security, audit preparedness, and support.
With geographically dispersed facilities across all of the US power grids, our data centers are the heart of our operation and yours. We have a wide range of colocation and disaster recovery solutions delivering advanced shared infrastructure designed to enable operational and financial efficiency, reducing the burden on your IT staff.
Our LightEdge facilities are more advanced than traditional data centers. We have created true Hybrid Solution Centers designed to offer a complete portfolio of high speed, secure, redundant, local cloud services and managed gateways to public clouds through our hardened facilities.
Customers turn to LightEdge to reduce risk of non-compliance, scale security, and for the predictably and cost-effectiveness. LightEdge provides customers with an extended team of experienced engineers and helps to focus resources on agility and differentiation. Are you curious how your current provider stacks up? Our security experts will provide a free security assessment to see how you measure up against the latest compliance and security standards. No risk, no commitment. Contact us today to get your free security assessment.
- Seven Common E-Commerce PCI Compliance Myths Explained
- What is Bare Metal Cloud?
- PCI DSS Cloud Compliance: Your Guide to a Smooth Cloud Migration
- 6 Best Practices for Data Security in the Cloud Infographic
- Why the Cloud is Safer the CIOs Believe: 6 Best Practices for Data Security
- The Best of Both Worlds: Colocation and PCI DSS Compliance
- Ultimate Guide to a Highly Compliant Cloud Environment
- Cost of Ownership: Public vs Private Cloud Showdown
- Why Virtual Private Cloud Will Make You Reconsider Your Cloud Infrastructure
- What Every Business Needs to Know About Dedicated Private Cloud
Michael has eleven years of information systems, IT, consulting, and compliance experience. His expertise includes identifying and implementing general IT systems, applications, and business controls in conjunction with external compliance audits.
Michael is currently the Director of Compliance at LightEdge, helping to establish, maintain and, enforce the information security policies and procedures that keep LightEdge customers protected at all times.