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What is PCI Compliance and Why is it Important? Preparing for PCI 4.0

Every business, large or small, needs to meet PCI compliance requirements. Protecting customer data is fundamental in today’s digital world and the Payment Card Industry (PCI) Data Security Standard (DSS) is designed to keep customer data secure. As the landscape of digital transactions continues to evolve and cybercrime continues to rise, it’s crucial for businesses to stay up-to-date with the latest PCI compliance requirements.

In this article, we will discuss what PCI compliance is and why it’s so important. We will also discuss some of the changes of PCI 4.0 so that your business can be prepared to meet the new standards.

What Is PCI Compliance?

PCI compliance, or Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS), is a set of security standards designed to protect personal and sensitive information that’s transmitted over the internet when you make a payment. Created in 2006, the standards are maintained by the PCI Security Standards Council, an independent organization of leading credit card companies including Visa, MasterCard, American Express, JCB, and Discover.

What Are the PCI Compliance Requirements?

There are six major objectives of PCI compliance that govern the twelve PCI compliance requirements that all companies must adhere to. The objectives are:

  1. Build and Maintain a Secure Network: Companies must establish firewalls and other security measures to protect their systems from malicious attacks.
  2. Protect Cardholder Data: Companies must take steps to protect all sensitive customer data, including the encryption of credit card numbers when stored or transmitted electronically.
  3. Maintain a Vulnerability Management Program: Companies must establish a program to systematically identify and address any vulnerabilities in the network or system.
  4. Implement Strong Access Control Measures: Companies must limit access to sensitive data only to those who need it, and ensure that all user accounts are monitored for suspicious activity.
  5. Regularly Monitor and Test Networks: Companies must regularly monitor their networks for suspicious activity and test their systems for vulnerabilities.
  6. Maintain an Information Security Policy: Companies must document their security practices, procedures, and policies to ensure they are up-to-date.

The twelve PCI compliance requirements are the following:

  1. Install and maintain security controls over network
  2. Protect stored cardholder data
  3. Maintain an information security policy
  4. Encrypt transmission of cardholder data across open, public networks
  5. Use and regularly update anti-virus software or programs
  6. Develop and maintain secure systems and applications
  7. Restrict access to cardholder data by business need-to-know
  8. Assign a unique ID to each person with computer access
  9. Restrict physical access to cardholder data
  10. Track and monitor all access to network resources and cardholder data
  11. Regularly test security systems and processes
  12. Maintain a policy that addresses information security

Why Your Business Should Follow PCI Compliance

By following the PCI compliance requirements, businesses can ensure they are following best practices for protecting customer credit card data and helping to prevent fraud. Additionally, it can help to maintain customer trust and confidence in a business’s payment system. Failure to comply with PCI could result in hefty fines, as well as potential damage to a business’s reputation.

It’s important for all businesses that accept payment cards to adhere to the requirements of PCI 4.0 in order to maintain their customers’ trust and protect their own data from malicious actors.

What to Expect for the PCI 4.0 Update

In March of 2022, PCI Security Standards Council (PCI SSC) released PCI 4.0 with updated PCI compliance requirements. However, PCI DSS v3.2.1 will remain active until March 2024 for organizations as they transition to the new version. The PCI DSS 4.0 Summary of Changes document outlines all of the changes in detail.

Some of the major changes that companies will need to be aware of include:

  • Organizations now must implement multi-factor authentication (MFA) for access into the cardholder data environment.
  • Organizations must increase password length from a minimum length of seven characters to minimum length of 12 characters (or if the system does not support 12 characters, a minimum length of eight characters). 
  • Increased flexibility for organizations to demonstrate how they are using different methods to achieve security objectives.
  • New requirement to detect and protect personnel against phishing attacks. 
  • New requirement to deploy an automated technical solution for public-facing web applications that continually detects and prevents web-based attacks.

Meet PCI Compliance Requirements with Brightline IT

Understanding the new changes made to PCI DSS 4.0, and meeting the PCI compliance requirements for your organization can be challenging to unravel. At Brightline IT, we provide security consulting services that help organizations achieve and maintain PCI compliance with ease.

Our experienced team of security professionals will work with you to develop a comprehensive security plan that meets the requirements of PCI DSS 4.0. We provide solutions for assessing your environment, meeting compliance objectives, and creating sustainable best practices to make sure you have the most up-to-date security posture possible.

Contact us today to learn how we can help you understand and ensure PCI compliance!