What Is PCI Compliance?


PCI Compliance

The PCI DSS, established in 2006 by the PCI Security Standards Council, mandates technical and operational requirements for companies handling cardholder data. These standards ensure a secure environment for processing, storing, or transmitting credit card information globally. Compliance is mandatory and enforced by major payment card brands like American Express, Discover, JCB, MasterCard, and Visa.

In this article, we will explore the significance of PCI compliance, its benefits, and the essential requirements businesses must follow to safeguard sensitive financial information.

Key Info

  • Companies that follow and achieve the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standards (PCI DSS) are considered to be PCI compliant.
  • The PCI Security Standards Council is responsible for developing the PCI DSS.
  • PCI DSS has 12 key requirements, 78 base requirements, and 400 test procedures to ensure that organizations are PCI compliant.
  • Being PCI compliant reduces data breaches, protects the data of cardholders, avoids fines, and improves brand reputation.
  • PCI compliance is considered mandatory through court precedent.

The Significance of PCI Compliance:

PCI compliance is not merely a set of regulations; it is an industry mandate established to mitigate the risk of fraudulent activities and data breaches. The PCI DSS provides a comprehensive framework, tools, and support resources to help businesses establish and maintain a secure environment for processing payment card data. Compliance with these standards is crucial for businesses of all sizes, as it not only helps avoid fines for violating agreements and negligence but also protects against the potentially devastating consequences of data breaches.

Benefits of PCI Compliance:

  1. Mitigation of Data Breaches:
    The primary goal of PCI compliance is to secure cardholder data and prevent unauthorized access. Data breaches can have severe consequences, including loss of customer trust, damaged reputation, lawsuits, and government fines. PCI compliance significantly reduces the risk of data breaches, safeguarding both the business and its customers.
  2. Enhanced Customer Trust and Loyalty:
    Customers are increasingly concerned about the security of their financial information. PCI compliance assures customers that their sensitive data is being handled responsibly, fostering trust and loyalty. A single security breach can erode customer confidence, making PCI compliance a crucial factor in maintaining a positive brand image.
  3. Contribution to Global Payment Card Data Security:
    PCI compliance is part of an ongoing effort to enhance global payment card data security. By adhering to these standards, businesses contribute to a collective initiative to prevent future security breaches and protect consumers from financial loss.

PCI Data Security Standard for Merchants & Processors:

Achieving and maintaining PCI compliance involves adhering to the PCI DSS guidelines. The key requirements include:

  1. Firewall Protection:
    Install and maintain a secure firewall configuration to protect cardholder data.
  2. Password Protection:
    Implement strong password policies and regularly update passwords for all devices and software handling cardholder data.
  3. Data Encryption:
    Encrypt cardholder data using approved algorithms and conduct regular scans to ensure no unencrypted data exists.
  4. Transmitted Data Encryption:
    Secure cardholder data during transmission over public networks.
  5. Antivirus Software:
    Use and maintain updated antivirus software for all devices interacting with primary account numbers.
  6. Software Updates:
    Keep all systems, software, and applications up-to-date to patch security vulnerabilities.
  7. Data Access Restriction:
    Limit access to cardholder information on a “need to know” basis.
  8. Unique IDs for Access:
    Assign unique user IDs and passwords to authorized users for accountability and faster response in case of a data breach.
  9. Physical Access Restriction:
    Store cardholder data in physically secure locations with limited access.
  10. Access Logs:
    Maintain detailed access logs for all activities involving cardholder data and PANs.
  11. Security Systems Testing:
    Regularly test all security systems to identify weaknesses and ensure ongoing effectiveness.
  12. Documentation of Policies:
    Document all systems, software, and employee logs related to PCI DSS requirements.
What Is PCI Compliance?

PCI compliance is not just a regulatory burden but a crucial investment in the security and integrity of cardholder data. The benefits, including legal protection, customer trust, and global data security contributions, far outweigh the challenges of implementation. By diligently following the PCI DSS guidelines, businesses can not only meet compliance standards but also build a resilient defense against the ever-present threats of fraud and data breaches in the digital age.

Payment Application Data Security Standard for Developers

PA-DSS reduces vulnerabilities in payment applications to prevent the compromise of full magnetic stripe data on payment cards. It applies to commercial payment applications, integrators, and service providers. Merchants and service providers must use certified payment applications and consult their acquiring financial institution for compliance requirements and timelines.
1. Do not retain full magnetic stripe, card validation code or value (CAV2, CID, CIV2, CW2) or PIN block data 8. Facilitate secure network implementation
2. Provide secure password features 9. Do not store cardholder data on a server connected to the Internet
3. Protect stored cardholder data 10. Facilitate secure remote software updates
4. Log application activity 11. Facilitate secure remote access to application
5. Develop secure applications 12. Encrypt sensitive traffic over public networks
6. Protect wireless transmissions 13. Encrypt all non-console administrative access
7. Test applications to address vulnerabilities 14. Maintain instructional documentation and training programs for customers, resellers and integrators

PIN Entry Device (PED) Security Requirements for Manufacturers

PIN Entry Device Security Requirements – Validated by PED Laboratory

  • Device Characteristics
    • Physical Security Characteristics (to prevent the device from being stolen from its location)
    • Logical Security Characteristics (to provide functional capabilities that ensure the device is working appropriately)
  • Device Management
    • Device Management during manufacturing
    • Device Management between manufacturer and initial cryptographic key loading
    • Considers how the PED is produced, controlled, transported, stored and used throughout its lifecycle (to prevent unauthorized modifications to its physical or logical security characteristics)

Do you need help?

Elevate your security measures with our tailored solutions – let us guide you through the implementation of PCI Compliance rules to safeguard your operations and protect cardholder data.

All the documents about PCI you can find here.


  • Zuzanna Macieszko

    Content Creator with a deep passion for Public Relations, new technologies, and traveling. I find joy in bringing creative ideas to life and have been actively involved in various projects to date.

Spread the love