The Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) applies to companies of any size that accept credit card payments. If your company intends to accept card payment, and store, process and transmit cardholder data, you need to host your data securely with a PCI compliant hosting provider.
PCI DSS 3.2 marks the start of refining the payment data regulations, rather than minor changes, and includes requirements to strengthen encryption and multifactor authentication.
PCI compliance auditing is a process whereby your business point of sale system is assessed. The purpose of this is threefold: (1) to examine your system, (2) to identify vulnerabilities, and (3) to prevent data from being compromised.
The following list is a step-by-step outline of what a compliance audit involves:
- All credit card data are sensitive in nature, so when you intend to build a compliance audit program, it is important that you find a qualified security assessor (QSA), who is approved by the PCI SSC (Payment Card Industry Security Standards Council), to conduct the audit.
- The initial work of the QSA involves evaluating your security infrastructure and procedures, policies, networks and systems. When done, the QSA will submit to you a risk assessment.
- The risk assessment will be the foundation for improving your data security. The QSA will give advice on conducting staff to training on security awareness, so that all your employees have the knowledge and skills needed to meet current PCI standards and regulations.
- Following a risk assessment review, any vulnerabilities found will be ranked and prioritized according to seriousness, so you will know which areas need to be addressed first. The focus of this is to improve your data security standards.
- Any problems identified in the audit should be addressed, and the QSA who conducted the audit can manage this process, or act as a consultant giving advice on improving your PCI compliance. If you have a high level of compliance already, then you may not need to do much to prepare for the audit. If you've never been audited, then addressing any issues that have arisen will ensure that the audit goes smoothly. If your organization has previously been exposed to a breach, then an audit will give you guidelines to follow to avoid future security breaches.
Ensuring that you have PCI compliance and a solid infrastructure for managing data security will increase customer confidence in your business and ensure that you're not exposed to security breaches that could have been avoided.