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A Guide On How To Become PCI Compliant - featured

A Guide On How To Become PCI Compliant

The Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard, or PCI DSS, ensures any company that stores, processes or transmits credit card information – whether for its own customers or on behalf of another company – holds said information entirely securely.

If your company processes or stores credit card information, you will require this certification in order to lawfully trade.

Compliance levels are determined according to a merchant level, which is based on transaction volumes across a year-long period. These levels are defined by Visa:

Level 1 – Merchants processing over 6 million Visa transactions across a 12 month period. Level 1 requirements are determined by Visa.

Level 2 – Regardless of the acceptance channel, said level of merchants will process between 1 million and 6 million transactions a year.

Level 3 – Between 20,000 to 1 million Visa transactions, specifically e-commerce transactions.

Level 4 – Between 20,000 Visa e-commerce transactions, and any other merchant which processes up to 1 million annual transactions, regardless of acceptance channel.

Note that these levels cover all credit card usage. Even if you take credit card details exclusively over the phone, you still must be PCI compliant. Also, if you have an SSL certificate, you will still be required to complete the other directives as set out by the PCI compliance rules.

Find out more about the details of NCC PCI compliance by clicking here.

Becoming compliant

In order to become compliant, you will need to adhere to the merchant specific guidelines as described above. Keep in mind that levels are audited differently, and have varying requirements.

Your company will need to build a sturdy infrastructure consisting of firewalls, access control and a high level of data encryption according to the PCI DSS. A firewall is essential for protecting the vital data of cardholders.

The software which you use to process cardholder data must:

  • Ensure the total encryption of cardholder data
  • Ensure the encryption of cardholder data when being transmitted across public networks
  • Be regularly updated with anti-virus programs and software
  • Restrict access to cardholder data within your company
  • Assign unique IDs to those with computer access
  • Track and monitor all actions and transactions effectively

In order to qualify for PCI certification, your company must maintain a security policy which ensures complete information protection for your employees and contractors.

The next steps

Once the secure infrastructure is in place, you will need to locate an approved scanning vendor that can ensure the safety requirements you have enforced are up to scratch. This scan will pinpoint any insecurities or instances in which the infrastructure is vulnerable.

To confirm qualification, you will need to answer a questionnaire which ensures that all requirements have been met. A merchant must be entirely compliant at the time of the audit.

Once the certificate has been issued, it is important to keep up to date with the security measures as stipulated in the PCI compliance rules, as any security breaches can prove to be a disaster for companies.

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