What Is PCI DSS Compliance?
The Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) is a set of security standards that apply to any organization that processes, accepts, stores, or transmits credit card payments. The PCI DSS was established by the Payment Card Industry Security Standards Council (PCI SSC), a group of payment card companies, to ensure that all companies that handle credit card information do so securely and responsibly.
The PCI DSS includes requirements for protecting cardholder data, maintaining a secure network, maintaining an effective vulnerability management strategy, implementing strong access controls, and regularly monitoring and testing networks.
Organizations that handle credit card payments must be PCI DSS compliant to accept payments from customers. This may involve periodic assessments and audits to ensure that the organization follows security practices and procedures.
Failure to comply with the PCI DSS can result in financial penalties, damage to the organization’s reputation, and loss of customers. Thus, it is important for any organization that handles credit card payments to be familiar with the PCI DSS and maintain compliance with its requirements.
PCI DSS Cybersecurity Requirements
The PCI DSS includes several requirements related to cybersecurity, which are designed to help ensure that organizations that handle credit card payments are protecting cardholder data and maintaining a secure network.
Install and Maintain a Firewall
The PCI DSS requires organizations to maintain a network firewall to protect cardholder data and maintain a secure network.
A firewall is a security mechanism that controls both incoming and outgoing network traffic according to predetermined security policies. It is designed to prevent unauthorized access to or from a network while permitting authorized communication to pass through.
To comply with the PCI DSS requirement to install and maintain a firewall, a covered entity must implement correct firewall configurations to protect all cardholder data. This may involve setting up firewall rules that control access to systems that store or process cardholder data and configuring the firewall to block unauthorized attempts to access the network.
In addition to installing a firewall, the PCI DSS requires organizations to maintain the firewall to ensure it is functioning correctly and is up to date with the newest security patches. This may involve regularly checking the firewall configuration, testing it to ensure that it is working properly, and updating the firewall with the latest security patches.
Encrypt Transmission of Payment Card Data Across Public and Open Networks
The PCI DSS requires organizations to encrypt the transmission of cardholder data across public networks.
Encrypting data involves converting it into a coded format that only someone with the appropriate decryption key can access. This helps to prevent data from being accessed by unauthorized entities while it is being transmitted over a network.
Complying with the PCI DSS requirement to encrypt the transmission of cardholder data over public networks may involve implementing secure protocols such as Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) or Transport Layer Security (TLS) to encrypt data as it is transmitted.
In addition to encrypting cardholder data in transit, the PCI DSS also requires organizations to protect the security of any encryption keys used to decrypt the data. This may involve implementing strong access controls that block unauthorized access to the keys and regularly rotating and updating them to ensure they remain secure.
Develop and Maintain Secure Applications and Systems
An organization must implement measures to ensure that its systems and applications are designed and developed with security in mind. This may involve following secure coding practices, such as input validation and sanitization, to prevent vulnerabilities from being introduced into the code and regularly testing and patching systems and applications to address any identified vulnerabilities.
In addition to creating secure proprietary systems and applications, the PCI DSS also requires organizations to implement measures to protect against vulnerabilities in third-party applications. This may involve regularly reviewing and testing third-party applications for vulnerabilities, mapping application dependencies, and implementing measures to address identified vulnerabilities.
Use Up-to-Date Antivirus Software
The PCI DSS requires organizations to use and regularly update antivirus software.
Anti-virus software is a type of software that is designed to detect and remove malicious software, such as viruses and malware, from a computer or network. It helps to protect against threats such as ransomware, which can encrypt data and hold it hostage until a ransom is paid, and spyware, which can steal sensitive information. An essential complement to antivirus is cloud backup solutions which can help recover data in case of a successful ransomware attack.
To comply with the PCI DSS requirement to use and regularly update antivirus software, an organization must implement measures to ensure that anti-virus software is installed and running on every system that stores or processes cardholder data. This may involve installing antivirus software on all servers, workstations, and other devices connected to the network.
In addition to installing an AV, the PCI DSS requires organizations to regularly update the software to ensure it can detect and remove the latest threats. This may involve setting up automatic updates to ensure that the software is always up to date or regularly checking for updates and installing them manually.
Assign User Access Identification
The PCI DSS requires organizations to assign user access identification.
An organization must implement measures to ensure that each user who accesses systems that store or process cardholder data has a unique user identifier, such as a username or employee number. This helps to ensure that each user’s activity can be traced and monitored and that unauthorized access to corporate systems can be detected and prevented.
In addition to assigning unique user identifiers, the PCI DSS requires organizations to implement strong access controls to prevent unauthorized access to systems that store or process cardholder data. This may involve requiring users to authenticate themselves using passwords and other authentication forms and implementing measures such as two-factor authentication to increase the security of the login process.
Track and Monitor Network Access
The PCI DSS requires organizations to track and monitor network access and keep an audit trail of network activity for a minimum of one year.
An organization must implement measures to track and monitor access to its network and systems that store or process cardholder data. This may involve implementing logging and monitoring systems that track user activity, such as logins, file access, and data changes.
In addition to tracking and monitoring access, the PCI DSS requires organizations to review log files regularly to identify any unusual or suspicious activity. This may involve setting up alerts to notify administrators of potential security threats or conducting regular reviews of log files to identify security issues.
Ongoing Systems and Process Testing,
The PCI DSS requires organizations to function with ongoing systems and process testing.
An organization must implement measures to regularly test its systems and processes to identify and address any vulnerabilities. This may involve conducting regular vulnerability scans and penetration tests to identify potential security weaknesses and implementing measures to address any identified vulnerabilities. External IPs and domains may need to be scanned by a PCI-approved scanning vendor (ASV).
In addition to testing systems and processes, the PCI DSS also requires organizations to regularly review and update their security policies and procedures to ensure that they are still practical and relevant. This may involve reviewing and updating policies and procedures in response to changes in the organization’s operations or the threat landscape.
In conclusion, the PCI DSS is a security standard that applies to organizations that accept, process, store, or transmit credit card payments. The PCI DSS includes several requirements related to cybersecurity, including installing and maintaining a firewall, encrypting the transmission of cardholder data, using and regularly updating antivirus software, developing and maintaining secure systems and applications, assigning user access identification, tracking, and monitoring network access, and conducting ongoing systems and process testing.
Compliance with the PCI DSS is essential for protecting customers’ sensitive financial information and maintaining stakeholders’ trust. It is crucial for organizations that handle credit card payments to be aware of the PCI DSS requirements and to have systems in place to ensure that they are in compliance. By following the PCI DSS requirements, organizations can help to ensure that they are protecting cardholder data and maintaining a secure network. They can help to reduce the risk of a data breach or other security incident.
How can Atlantic.Net help? Atlantic.Net provides PCI-ready hosting services and solutions. We maintain multiple processes to provide the best protection, such as a risk assessment and monitoring user access to Payment Data.