What is PCI Compliance?

Calling all Administrators, Business Owners, and Decision Makers – Let’s Talk PCI Compliance! 

What is PCI Compliance? 

PCI compliance has been around for a while, but you might have heard about it more recently in relation to the rising rates of cybercrime. PCI refers to the adherence to the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (aka, PCI DSS), which is a set of security standards developed by major credit card companies to ensure the secure handling of sensitive credit card information—including the personal data they contain.

PCI DSS, often shortened just to PCI, outlines a set of requirements businesses must follow to “securely process, store, and transmit credit card data.” These requirements include implementing strong access controls, maintaining secure networks, regularly monitoring and testing systems, and properly encrypting data—crucial steps to help protect customers’ sensitive credit card information from theft, fraud, and other malicious activities. 

And if you’re wondering what happens if you fail to comply with PCI: it can result in a business getting hit with hefty fines, damage to a business’s reputation, and of course the loss of the ability to process credit card payments. Yikes!

How Can You Get PCI Compliant?

To become compliant, your businesses must follow a set of requirements outlined by the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS). Here are the general steps:

  1. Identify which parts of your business handle credit card information and where the data is stored. 
  2. Conduct a risk assessment. Identify potential security risks and vulnerabilities that could impact the security of cardholder data. 
  3. Based on the results of the risk assessment, businesses need to implement appropriate controls to mitigate risks and vulnerabilities. This may include measures such as network segmentation, access control, encryption, or establishing identity checks.
  4. Get your compliance validated with PCI DSS by completing a Self-Assessment Questionnaire (SAQ) or engaging a Qualified Security Assessor (QSA) to perform a formal assessment. 
  5. Businesses must then continue to monitor their systems and processes to ensure ongoing compliance with PCI DSS requirements. This includes regular security testing, vulnerability scanning, and maintaining up-to-date security controls.

…. Does any of this sound familiar? 

If so, you’re likely noticing something other business owners are also picking up on: the requirements for PCI compliance and cyber insurance policy applications sometimes overlap! 

Here are a few examples of requirements PCI compliance and cyber insurance policies share: 

  1. Risk assessment—start from where you are!
    • Both typically require businesses to conduct a risk assessment to identify potential security risks and vulnerabilities.
  2. Data protection—keep it on lock.
    •  Both require businesses to take measures to protect sensitive and personally identifiable data, by implementing access controls, encrypting data, and monitoring systems on a regular basis.
  3. Incident response planning—backup your data.
    • Both require businesses to have a backup plan in place to respond to security incidents and data breaches – this is often referred to as a Backup and Disaster Recovery (BDR) plan. 
  4. Third-party assessments—check your work.
    • Both require businesses to undergo assessments by third-party assessors to determine compliance with the standards.
  5. Ongoing monitoring—you can’t just start and stop.
    • Both require ongoing monitoring of systems and processes to ensure ongoing compliance and customer protection.

While PCI compliance and requirements for cyber insurance policies are not the same, they share common guidelines businesses can leverage to enhance their security posture and reduce the risk of security incidents and data breaches. 

As both cybercrime and cyber regulations increase, new responsibilities are falling to businesses—in the legal, financial, automotive, agricultural, and healthcare industries, just to name a few. 

Modern businesses of all sizes not only need cybersecurity and digital defenses, but they also need cyber insurance for when an attack does occur. Achieving and maintaining PCI compliance and getting a cyber insurance policy ensure you can save money and help protect your business from the jump! 

If you’d like help determining whether your business is PCI compliant—or you want to be sure you take the steps to get there—reach out to Stratti. We’ve got your back.