Secure Credit Card Payments with PCI Compliance Checklist

April 7, 2022

Security should be your top priority when accepting and completing credit card payments. You can make sure that your payment system is secure by using a PCI compliance checklist. The Payment Card Industry Security Standards Council is responsible for the creation and maintenance of the PCI Data Security Standard. This standard is a set of requirements that protect credit card data. You should become familiar with the PCI DSS if you don’t already know it. (Payment Process)

What’s PCI DSS? 

PCI DSS (or the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard) is a set of regulations that protect cardholder data. The major credit card companies developed this standard to provide a uniform security protocol to merchants that store, process or transmit credit card data. 

Below are the 12 requirements for the PCI DSS. 

PCI DSS Requirements 

  • Set up and maintain a firewall to protect cardholder information.

 Installing a firewall to protect your network perimeter does not make you PCI DSS compliant. Firewalls can be prone to configuration errors and don’t protect payment card data. Network firewalls are an integral part of the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard. The goal of a firewall is to protect confidential information by filtering potentially dangerous Internet traffic. 

A firewall is a piece of equipment or software that acts as a barrier between your payment system (and the Internet). It serves as a barrier that prevents traffic from entering your network or systems you didn’t authorize. Firewalls can be configured in hardware or software with specific criteria to prevent or block unauthorized access to networks. 

Your Internet provider may include firewalls in your router box. Although firewall rules may seem complicated, it is essential to properly configure them for security. It is a good idea to get help from network professionals if you don’t know how to configure your firewall properly. 

  • Don’t use defaults provided by vendors for system passwords or other security parameters.

Change the default password (the vendor’s password) to a stronger password. To protect your data, you should use strong passwords. Monitor your networks regularly for signs of intrusions. 

  • Protect cardholder data.

PCI DSS Requirement 3 relates to the protection of stored data. It aims to protect primary account numbers and sensitive authentication data (SAD), using hashing or truncation methods. This requirement is intended to minimize all risks associated with cardholder data storage. 

  • Encrypt cardholder data transmission over open, public networks.

Merchants and service providers must ensure that sensitive information is not transmitted over unprotected networks by using encryption to protect it. Open and public networks are generally untrusted. Therefore, an encrypted pipe or encryption should be used. This applies especially to cardholder data that is transmitted over the Internet or wireless networks. 

  • Keep your anti-virus software up to date. 

Regularly update your antivirus software. All systems that are susceptible to malware infection should have anti-virus software installed. To detect and remove known malware, make sure that anti-virus and anti-malware software is regularly updated. 

  • Create and maintain secure applications and systems 

PCI DSS Requirement 6, states that applications and systems must be carefully developed and maintained to ensure security. They also need to be regularly updated with any updates by developers. This is done to prevent systems and applications from being exposed to vulnerabilities that could be exploited by hackers or malicious individuals who may attempt to steal cardholder information such as credit cards and debit cards. Malware often exploits known vulnerabilities, or in some cases, unknown vulnerabilities, to gain privileged access to the Cardholder Data Environment. 

  • Limit access to cardholder data for businesses that need it. 

PCI DSS Requirement 7 limits access to cardholder data according to business needs. Access control should be sufficient to restrict access to sensitive cardholder data and the environment. 

  • Identify system components and authenticate your access 

PCI DSS Requirement 8 addresses identification and authentication for access to all system components. This requirement is intended to make sure that cardholders are accountable for their actions, and to trace transactions made by anyone with access to the cardholder’s data environment. 

  • Limit physical access to cardholder information 

Cardholder data can be accessed by anyone with physical access. This allows them to destroy hard copies or access data. This access should only be granted to authorized personnel. PCI DSS Requirement 9 defines “on-site employees” as full-time or part-time employees and contractors who are physically present at the company’s site. 

A visitor is a reseller or guest of service workers or facility staff. It can also refer to anyone who needs to enter the facility for a short time, typically not more than one day. Media is the combination of all data from cardholders in electronic and paper media. 

PCI DSS Requirement 9, which is related to controlling physical access to all systems within the cardholder data environment that store, process, or transmit cardholder data, concerns the control of physical access. 

  • Monitor and track all network access and cardholder data. 

PCI DSS Requirement 10 concerns logging and auditing. All cardholder data systems must have an audit and logging facility. This allows for the monitoring of user and system access to sensitive cardholder data. It is essential for audit purposes as well as reviewing incidents. If activated correctly, this logging and audit function will greatly aid in minimizing exposure and containing data breaches. Root cause analysis is nearly impossible without the audit and log functionality. 

  • Test security systems and processes regularly. 

PCI DSS Requirement 11 concerns the testing of security controls implemented by an organization. This provides empirical and direct validation that the controls are being implemented effectively and quickly identifies any weaknesses before a malicious attacker has identified them. Malicious hackers can now be described as professional organizations that can identify, exploit, and research vulnerable entities that store, process, or transmit sensitive cardholder data. These controls test every aspect of the environment, including applications and servers. They also identify problems quickly so they can be fixed before malicious hackers exploit them. 

  • Develop a policy to ensure information security for all employees. 

The 12th PCI DSS Requirement binds the other requirements. It outlines the requirement for an effective and comprehensive information security program within an organization. The Information Security Policy outlines the culture, mindset, and tone of an organization. It also guides employees on how to approach sensitive data and information security, particularly cardholder data. The entire organization must be made aware of this policy, so they are all clear about their responsibilities. 

PCI DSS Requirement 12 defines “personnel” as any person who has access to or can access the cardholder data environments of the entity. Credit card companies could impose significant fines on you if you don’t comply with the PCI DSS. Customers may lose faith in your business if they discover that the payment processing system isn’t secure. 

It is easy to comply with the PCI DSS and many resources can help you get started. The PCI SSC website provides a detailed overview of the PCI DSS and offers a series of self-assessment questions (SAQs), which can be used to help determine which requirements apply to your business. 

Many third-party companies provide PCI compliance services if you need more guidance. These companies can assist you in developing a security plan and implementing anti-virus software. They also can perform other tasks that protect your credit card information. 

This guide will help you ensure your business is PCI compliant so that customers feel safe using credit cards to purchase goods and services. (Payment Process