What You Need To Know About PCI Compliance

19 March 2023

PCI compliance is an important step in combating malicious threats to online shopping.

B2B commerce continues to grow at a steady rate as technology makes it more convenient for people to spend money than ever before. In 2021, B2B ecommerce sales totaled $1.7 trillion in the U.S. and are projected to rise by 10.7% annually to about $3.1 trillion in 2027.

However, the convenient payment methods driving all this commercial activity are not without risk. Credit cards and digital payment applications can become victims of cybersecurity attacks from hackers and malicious actors looking to steal personal information.

To counteract this threat, major stakeholders in the industry developed the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS). It has since become the standard for safeguarding credit card transactions and similar payment solutions.

In this guide, we’ll cover what you need to know about PCI compliance and how you can achieve it to be ready for the commercial revolution.

Here’s what you’ll learn:

  • What Is PCI DSS?
  • Why Is PCI Compliance Important?
  • How To Become PCI-Compliant
  • Final Thoughts: What You Need To Know About PCI Compliance

What Is PCI DSS?

PCI DSS is a set of security standards developed by the PCI Security Standards Council (PCI SSC) to ensure a consistent level of data security for all payment card transactions.

It includes technical and operational requirements for security management, policies, procedures, network architecture, software design, and other critical protective measures to prevent credit and debit card fraud, hacking, security breaches, and other threats.

These standards apply to all organizations that capture, process, transmit, and store cardholder data. So, if your operations involve any of these activities, you need to be PCI compliant.

The PCI SSC consists of all the major card companies, such as American Express, Discover, JCB International, Mastercard, UnionPay, and Visa.

The council first released the PCI DSS in 2004 and continues to update it with the input and support of industry stakeholders. The most recent version of the PCI DSS is version 4.0, released in March 2022 in response to evolving threats and new technologies.

You can find the 12 PCI DSS compliance requirements listed in the latest version.

Why Is PCI Compliance Important?

  • PCI DSS compliance reduces the risk of attacks. If you’re compliant, you’re less likely to become a victim of data breaches, credit card fraud, identity theft, and other security incidents.
  • Compliance increases compatibility with major card payment solutions. All major credit card companies are members of the PCI SSC and embrace the standards.
  • It increases customer confidence and brand reputation. PCI DSS is a global standard, and compliance shows your organization’s awareness of international security best practices.
  • PCI Compliance can mean legal compliance. This happens when some requirements overlap with existing laws, like the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act (FACTA).
  • You can avoid high fines from PCI SSC You can avoid charges merchants have to pay if found non-compliant during an audit.
  • It reduces the risk of losing your merchant account with credit card companies. Continued non-compliance can lead to a terminated contract with any of the PCI SSC card brands.

How To Become PCI Compliant

While PCI compliance is important, note that it’s a time-consuming and expensive process. You must follow these four major steps:

  • Assess your systems to identify how you store, transmit, and process credit card data with a self-assessment questionnaire.
  • Remediate any gaps and vulnerabilities identified during the assessment stage.
  • Document and report compliance assessment results and remediation
  • Monitor and maintain the security controls put in place to secure your payment data.

In addition to these steps, the PCI DSS requirements vary based on the category an organization falls into. Transaction numbers apply regardless of if the point of sale (POS) is via ecommerce or on-site. And you might need to hire an approved scanning vendor (ASV) to verify your processes.

There are four different PCI compliance levels:

  • Level 1:Any merchant processing over six million transactions per year.
  • Level 2: Any merchant processing one million to six million transactions per year.
  • Level 3: Any merchant processing 20,000 to one million transactions per year.
  • Level 4: Any merchant processing fewer than 20,000 transactions per year.

To become PCI DSS certified, a business needs to follow the assessment steps based on its level and submit to audits from Qualified Security Assessors (QSAs) to verify compliance. That can be difficult to implement for a small business, not to mention costly.

To reduce the cost and complexity, most will select a payment processor with certified solutions that keep their business within PCI compliance.

Since the third-party service provider handles all your payment processing and they are already PCI DSS compliant, you don’t have much to worry about beyond ensuring that they maintain compliance with the standards.

An example is k-ecommerce’s services, which are designed in such a way that, as an online merchant, you do not store credit card information in your system.

Final Thoughts: What You Need To Know About PCI Compliance

You can’t have a modern ecommerce business without card payments, and you can’t have card payments without PCI compliance. While there are some major security requirements to meet for certification, you can bypass all of them if you choose a payment solution that is already PCI certified.

k-ecommerce is a Level 1 PCI merchant that complies fully with PCI DSS specifications, using industry best practices to protect credit card information and achieve a high level of security in its PCI environment.

k-ecommerce’s services are designed so that your business doesn’t store credit card information in your system. When customers enter cardholder data (CHD) into the k-ecommerce credit card popup, the information redirects to our specialized PCI servers and bypasses your system entirely to protect you and your customers.

Get in touch to learn more about our solutions for your ecommerce business.