The ultimate guide to PCI compliance for enterprise businesses

Abdul Badruddin, Khoros Information Security Director, and Carter Loyd, Khoros Software Engineer

What is PCI compliance?

Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) Compliance, also known as PCI compliance, involves adhering to security standards administered by the Payment Card Industry Security Standards Council (PCI SSC). These standards ensure cardholder data's secure handling, processing, storage, and drive the development and adoption of data security standards for safe payments worldwide. Established in 2006 (but started in 2001) by major card brands, PCI compliance standards encompass 12 general data security requirements, and over 200 sub-requirements and are a crucial safeguard for organizations handling payment card data.

PCI compliance for companies is essential, as it demonstrates a commitment to securing customer payment information, protecting against data breaches, and maintaining trust. By complying with these requirements, organizations can operate securely in the digital landscape and foster confidence among customers and partners. PCI compliance serves as a cornerstone in the realm of payment card security by allowing organizations to uphold the integrity and operate with assurance in an interconnected world.

Why does PCI compliance matter?

PCI compliance reassures customers that their payment information is protected, which enables secure online transactions and instills brand confidence. Reassuring customers that companies have completed rigorous testing and compliance, including a successful external audit by a Qualified Security Assessor (QSA), improves the customer experience.

Cybersecurity and data protection are especially vital for enterprises engaged in online commerce. Safeguarding customers personally identifiable information (PII) and sensitive data during digital interactions reduces brand reputation risks and financial liabilities. PCI compliance applies to all entities collecting non-cash or non-check payments, dispelling the misconception that it is solely for online retailers. It ensures secure payment data handling across industries and safeguards the interests of both businesses and customers.

Benefits of PCI compliance for enterprises

PCI compliance provides significant benefits specifically for enterprises in multiple ways. Organizations enhance their security by adhering to PCI standards by maintaining uninterrupted operations, and managing third-party risks while protecting their customer's sensitive data. Adherence to PCI standards strengthens security operations, ensures business continuity, facilitates effective vendor management, and contributes to robust risk management practices. Here’s a short list of the benefits of PCI compliance for enterprises:

  • Security Operations: PCI compliance provides a framework for implementing robust security measures and controls by enhancing the organization's security posture and protecting sensitive customer data from unauthorized access or breaches.

  • Business Continuity: PCI compliance helps establish resilient systems and practices, enabling organizations to minimize the impact of security incidents or disruptions, sustain business operations, and maintain customer trust even during unforeseen events.

  • Vendor Management: PCI compliance requires assessing and managing the security of vendors and service providers handling cardholder data, ensuring they adhere to appropriate security practices and protecting customer data throughout the supply chain.

  • Risk Management: PCI compliance assists in identifying and mitigating risks associated with payment card data handling, reducing the likelihood of data breaches and mitigating financial and reputational risks. Compliance demonstrates a commitment to risk management and establishing trust with customers, partners, and regulators.

What you need to know about PCI compliance standards

First and foremost, there are 12 compliance requirements that all companies seeking PCI compliance certification must meet. These requirements include:

  1. Install and maintain a firewall configuration to protect cardholder data

  2. Do not use vendor-supplied defaults for system passwords and other security parameters

  3. Protect stored cardholder data

  4. Encrypt transmission of cardholder data across open, public networks

  5. Use and regularly update anti-virus software or programs

  6. Develop and maintain secure systems and applications

  7. Restrict access to cardholder data by business need to know

  8. Assign a unique ID to each person with computer access

  9. Restrict physical access to cardholder data

  10. Track and monitor all access to network resources and cardholder data

  11. Regularly test security systems and processes

  12. Maintain a policy that addresses information security for all personnel

Understanding and implementing these requirements is necessary for becoming and maintaining PCI compliance. Additionally, enterprises should understand the difference between self-attested and certified PCI compliance. Self-attested compliance relies on self-assessment and validation, whereas certified compliance involves a more rigorous and independent assessment by a QSA. Certified compliance offers higher assurance and recognition from payment card brands and acquiring banks, which promotes greater confidence in an organization's compliance status.

Complex IT infrastructure poses challenges for enterprises seeking PCI compliance. Enterprise-level companies often have intricate and diverse IT systems due to their size, multiple business units, and various payment channels. Coordinating compliance efforts across these systems can be time-consuming and resource-intensive. Enterprises must comprehensively understand their IT infrastructure, identify potential vulnerabilities, and implement appropriate security measures to meet PCI compliance standards.

PCI compliance can be costly and relies on third-party relationships and verification. Enterprises frequently depend on third-party service providers and vendors who handle cardholder data, or provide payment processing services. Ensuring the compliance of these third parties is vital, but can be complex. Additionally, achieving and maintaining compliance involves financial investments. Organizations must allocate resources to implement security measures, conduct vulnerability scans, engage third-party assessors, and maintain ongoing compliance.

Furthermore, enterprises must know the scope, scalability, and changing requirements associated with PCI compliance. Compliance requirements evolve, and organizations must keep pace with the latest PCI DSS standards. Rapid growth, mergers, acquisitions, or changes in business operations also impact compliance in the same way. During these times, it is critical that enterprises ensure scalability and effectively manage changes while also maintaining PCI compliance.

PCI compliance for digital contact centers

PCI compliance is of paramount importance in digital contact centers, as it assures customers that their personal data is collected, stored, and processed securely. By adhering to PCI standards, customer PII, including sensitive details like social security numbers and addresses, remains protected. Implementing user-friendly security measures and prioritizing data security demonstrates a company's commitment to providing a secure and trustworthy payment environment.

Digital contact centers that utilize PCI-compliant secure forms offer a safe and convenient platform to collect and manage sensitive information from customers and ensure that data such as credit card numbers, account details, and other PII is secured without compromising privacy. By utilizing these secure forms, companies create a safe and user-friendly customer experience, building trust and confidence in their services.

Compliance is crucial for online retail and e-commerce enterprises and financial institutions to safeguard cardholder data, establish customer trust, and comply with regulatory requirements. Compliance enables the creation of a secure payment environment, mitigates the risk of data breaches, and fosters a positive reputation with their customer base. Compliance demonstrates the implementation of robust security controls, minimizes vulnerabilities, and upholds the highest standards of security and privacy.

PCI compliance increases CSAT and NPS

Companies benefit from meaningful and seamless customer conversations, resulting in faster responses and resolutions. However, some consumers may find PCI compliance measures inconvenient and disruptive to their payment experience, thereby leading to customer frustrations and slower checkout processes. Additionally, consumers' awareness of data breach risks can erode their trust in companies handling their payment information and make them hesitant to share their card details.

Concerns about collecting, storing, and using personal information during transactions arise, which raises concerns about privacy and unsolicited marketing communications. Addressing these concerns by reducing inconvenience, addressing data breach concerns, and securing customer privacy and consent, such as utilizing secure forms, can improve transaction experiences, increase agent and customer satisfaction, and provide relief and security to customers.

Addressing customer concerns regarding PCI compliance can directly impact Customer Satisfaction (CSAT) and Net Promoter Score (NPS). By reducing inconvenience and disruptions during the payment process, companies create a smoother and more efficient customer experience, leading to higher CSAT. When customers feel that their payment information is well-protected and their privacy is respected, it builds trust and confidence in the company's services, positively impacting satisfaction.

By directly addressing data breach concerns and implementing robust security measures, companies demonstrate their commitment to safeguarding customer data, which enhances customer trust and loyalty. By proactively addressing these concerns and prioritizing customer satisfaction and data security, companies can improve CSAT and NPS, fostering long-term customer relationships and advocacy.

Secure your data with Khoros’ PCI compliance and security solutions

Khoros’ Secure Forms is PCI compliant and certified, which offers enterprises a secure and user-friendly solution to collect and manage sensitive customer information. Khoros obtained certification for Secure Forms through Aprio, the national leader of PCI DSS and other information security certifications and audits.

To further enhance security, Khoros implements operational policies and procedures such as proactive monitoring, encryption at rest and in transit, vulnerability management, intrusion detection, and prevention, as well as data retention and destruction policies. Khoros also leverages Amazon Web Services (AWS) as its hosting platform, which provides global resilience by spanning multiple geographic locations and availability zones.

Khoros places significant emphasis on vendor management by establishing contractual agreements that outline security requirements for third-party vendors that could impact its security posture. Additionally, the company maintains a documented risk management program with a dedicated owner responsible for document maintenance and annual security risk reviews. To ensure its compliance with its customers, Khoros also conducts comprehensive risk analysis for critical systems and remedies any findings more frequently than PCI compliance standards require.

Learn more about Khoros’ PCI-compliant certification and additional security measures to keep enterprise data safe and secure.

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