What Are the Requirements of PCI DSS Compliance?

If your company processes credit or debit card information, then it’s very likely that you have heard of Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS).

Cardholder data should not be accessible to individuals who do not need access. In addition, sent to a central Syslog server there should be properly structured measures to control how cardholder data is accessed.

The contract for cardholder data handlers PCI requires PCI DSS; regardless of the size of your company, it must comply, and the compliance must be validated year by year.

Statistics have shown that organizational PCI DSS compliance has dropped consistently since 2016. For example, a payment security report by Verizon revealed that only 27.9 percent of businesses attained comprehensive PCI DSS compliance during their 2019 interim validation.

The core focus of the PCI DSS requirements checklist is to provide adequate credit card security to cardholders. Here are the requirements of PCI DSS compliance.

1. Install a Firewall and Maintain its Configuration

Firewalls prevent unauthorized access to data by unknown entities through rules and regulations configured by a company. This helps to adequately secure the card data environment. Firewall configuration maintenance should include bi-annual reviews to ensure no potential data leaks.

2. Avoid Porous Vendor-Supplied Defaults for System Security

Do not use third-party systems like routers, point of sale (POS) systems, modems, and other models with security codes that are often easy to guess and access by the public. PSI compliance in this regard includes putting together a list of software and devices requiring security access and including precautions and configurations to secure cardholder data.

3. Two-Fold Cardholder Data Security

Card Data must be secure through encryption. But it’s first crucial that you understand the volume of data to be stored together with its location and retention—harness industry-accepted algorithms (e.g., AES-256, RSA 2048).

4. Encrypt Data Transmitted Across Public Networks

When data is encrypted, it becomes gibberish and practically impossible for unauthorized use. A fourth PCI DSS requirement is that data transferred across locations must be encrypted. In addition, sensitive information like account numbers should not be sent to open or unknown locations such as GSM, Bluetooth, GPRS, 802.11, CDMA, or over the Internet. Cybercriminals are constantly seeking to take advantage of a company’s security system vulnerabilities. However, encrypting cardholder data will limit the possibility of a breach.

5. Install Antivirus Software

Antivirus software is necessary to secure devices that interact with and/or store PAN. It is also very important to ensure the constant update of this software. This PCI DSS compliance requirement is geared towards offering protection against diverse malware types that can wreak computer havoc. These also include workstations, smart devices, and laptops that may be used for carrying out various tasks with company resources. Updating antivirus or antimalware programs will make security software capable of confronting new threat data. This process will also make it impossible for potential malware infection. However, ensure that antivirus mechanisms are always kept active.

6. Identify and Classify Vulnerabilities In The PCI DSS Environment

Develop and maintain secure applications and systems by uncovering risks through reliable external sources. Business owners must be able to patch all systems in the card data environment in good time. These systems include application software, POS terminals, firewalls, routers, switches, databases, and operating systems. Updating them will provide an added security layer to the system, and they are essential for all software on devices that store or interact with cardholder data.

7. Control Cardholder Data Access

Cardholder data should not be accessible to individuals who do not need access. In addition, there should be properly structured measures to control how cardholder data is accessed. The restriction to data access requirement is focused on role-based access control (RBAC), which makes resources accessible on a need-to-know basis. Need-to-know is a crucial aspect of PCI DSS, ensuring that data is not exposed to the wrong users.

8. Dole Out Unique Access Identity to Each User

Every cardholder data with access should be assigned a distinct method of identification to gain access. Avoid using a single access code to encrypt data with several employees being given that code. That approach gives room for vulnerability. A more secure approach is to offer unique Identities and passwords/passphrases to every user. This will also speed up response time.

9. Restrict Data Access Physically

This PCI DSS requirement restricts cardholder data (digital and hard copies) from being physically exposed to the public. Data should be locked in a cabinet, drawer, or secure room. Aside from restricting physical contact with cardholder data, every potential access should strictly comply with the rules. Without physically putting these restrictions in place, potential threats would gain access and wreak havoc on systems and data.

10. Utilize Access Logs

One of the biggest risks to data is the lack of proper recording and documentation. Hence, access logs must be created and maintained before data and other network resources can be used. Data flow within your organization should be adequately documented. All systems must have a valid audit policy that must be set with logs sent to a central Syslog server.

11. Examine Security Systems Periodically

Even the best security approach can go awful either to human error, system malfunction, or outdated applications. Hence, it is important to test your security systems from time to time to keep healthy defenses.

12. Document and Implement Security Policies

Every policy should be geared towards the core PCI DSS goals and must be documented. Access to software, equipment, and employees must be adequately documented to aid compliance. The information security policy must at least be reviewed annually and passed across to every vendor, employee, and contractor.

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