PCI DSS Compliance for Retailers Explained

Any business that handles customer data, specifically payment information like credit card details, requires PCI DSS compliance. If your business takes card payments, you need to become PCI DSS compliant. 

This will help to protect your customers’ data by following certain security procedures. You will also then be entitled to a merchant’s license, which will earn the trust of your customers.

What is PCI DSS compliance?

The Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) is an information security standard mandated by credit card brands and administered by the Payment Card Security Standards Council. 

This standard requires all organizations that handle branded card transactions to follow certain guidelines in order to protect customer data. 

Businesses aren’t all required by law to be PCI DSS compliant, depending on the state, but it is recommended. It’s a good way to ensure that you meet minimum security standards while dealing with customer payment information. 

Complying with this standard also allows businesses to make card transactions using a separate business account or merchant account. If you’re a businessaccepting credit card payments, then it’s advisable to ensure you become PCI DSS compliant.

How can you become PCI DSS compliant?

Businesses that become PCI DSS compliant are classified by the number of card transactions they take. 

There are four levels your business can be placed in starting at level 1, for six million or more transactions a year, to level 4, up to 20,000 card transactions a year. 

Small or medium businesses usually fit into level 3 or 4, as they don’t usually handle more than one million transactions in a year.

In order for your business to become PCI DSS compliant, you need to first a Self-Assessment Questionnaire (SAQ). In this questionnaire, you will answer questions based on your security procedures when dealing with customer information. 

This survey will then determine the PCI DSS security levels of your business. Some examples of questions in this questionnaire include how data is transmitted, authentication and passwords, and various processes for sharing information. 

At the end of the SAQ, you will sign a declaration known as the Attestation of Compliance. 

Once you are approved, you will be checked in order to ensure that your processes are still compliant with PCI DSS security standards, your business will undergo a PCI DSS security scan four times a year by an Approved Scanning Vendor (ASV). 

How can managed IT services help with PCI DSS compliance?

If you want to ensure that your business meets security standards,  a Managed Services Provider (MSP) can help. You can look into a MSP from a local or national IT company

The MSP will take control of your IT systems and perform tests to check for any weak spots in your security. They will then provide you with solutions unique to your business, ensuring your security is up to date. 

An MSP will also perform audits specifically for PCI DSS requirements. Through these audits, you will be able to ensure your business’s processes for handling payment information and customer data are in accordance with PCI DSS compliance. 

Chris Turn