PCI DSS stands for Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard. It is a set of requirements that seek to ensure that all companies and organizations that handle credit card information are bound to a security standard. It has as a goal to improve security across the entire payment transaction process.
The PCI DSS is defined by the PCI Security Standard Council, which is an organization that establishes a list of comprehensive requirements that need to be applied to be PCI DSS compliant. These requirements are generally accompanied by supporting materials such as frameworks, tools, and other resources that might be helpful for companies or organizations that seek to ensure proper use of credit card transactional data. The PCI Security Council is tasked to provide a framework that allows that prevention, detection, and appropriate reaction for any type of security incidents are adequately dealt with.
The 12 Basic Requirements of PCI DSS Compliance
- Proper use and maintenance of firewalls: Firewalls are the basic standard to avoid unauthorized access by malicious entities attempting to access private networks.
- Appropriate credentials management: One of the most underlooked aspects of data security is the proper management of passwords. The usage of default passwords and simple Social Engineering tactics can be exploited by malicious actors that seek to penetrate security systems. Therefore, PCI DSS has as one their core requirements to ensure proper compliance of password management to ensure that appropriate policies are in place to secure password-protected devices.
- Cardholder data protection: PCI DSS requires two-fold protection for cardholder data, which must be encrypted with symmetric-key algorithms, which can also be further encrypted. Regular maintenance and scanning of primary number accounts are also necessary to ensure that no sensitive data is left unencrypted.
- Encryption of data streams (data in transit): Cardholder data is sometimes required to be sent across systems. Therefore, previous encryption of these data is necessary.
- Usage and maintenance of antivirus: To prevent malicious attacks, PCI DSS requires antivirus software installed and maintained in all systems involved in the data transactions, which must also be regularly patched and updated.
- Up to date software: Firewalls and antivirus software require frequent updates to catch the latest security threats.
- Restricted data access: Data governance policies must be in place to ensure that cardholder data is sought just by the people who use it and no one else. These data governance policies should be well documented and regularly maintained.
- Unique IDs for cardholder data access: Users with permissions to access cardholder data should be uniquely identified. This measure seeks to reduce vulnerability, and quicker response in case data is compromised.
- Restricted physical access to sensitive data: Sensitive data such as credit cardholder data should be stored in physically secure locations, along with proper information logs about any access to it.
- Access logs and auditing: Information regarding any activities where cardholder data or any other sensitive data was involved must be logged appropriately.
- Continuous vulnerabilities testing and monitoring: Periodic analysis of the points of failure should be undertaken to identify and address security concerns.
- Clear & well-documented Policies: Policies of who data is governed should be well defined and documented, the systems used, and users with sensitive data access.
The main benefit of being PCI DSS compliant is that it ensures that data systems are trustworthy when dealing with sensitive information. That is a practice that ensures proper data governance and security standard.