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PCI DSS Compliance Checklist for your eCommerce Site

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PCI Compliance Checklist

Annual online payment fraud is projected to amount to $48 billion by 2023. If you are an e-commerce business that accepts credit cards, then you need to have adequate security measures to protect your customers’ personal information.

In light of the rise of cybercrime incidences, you cannot afford to skimp on data security. Fortunately, PCI DSS is here to help you guard your clients’ credit card data.

What Is PCI DSS

PCI DSS is a set of requirements that are meant to secure cardholder information. They safeguard the interests of the customer, your e-commerce store, and the card brand.


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Every entity that comes into contact with consumer credit card data is required to abide by these guidelines.

Before the PCI DSS requirements were created, five major companies that produce credit cards had formed their own independent programs to improve credit information security. The five were American Express, Mastercard, Discover, VISA, and JCB.

Since each company came up with different requirements, it became problematic for businesses to adhere to the different and incompatible standards. In 2004, the five companies joined forces and released the first universal payment card industry security standard, PCI DSS version 1.0.

Two years later, the five companies established a body called the Payment Card Industry Security Standards Council (PCI SSC). This governing organization was tasked with maintaining, evolving, and promoting PCI standards to improve the security of cardholder data across the world.

Since then, the organization has released various PCI DSS versions. The latest is version 3.2.1, which was rolled out in 2018.

Who Should Comply

All e-commerce entities must follow the rules outlined by the PCI standards. Regardless of the size of your business or the number of transactions you conduct, you must comply as long as you handle credit card payments.

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If you fail to abide by the standards and cardholder data is stolen from your online store or site, you risk monetary fines, bans on accepting card payments, legal liability for fraud charges, or mandatory forensic investigation.

PCI Compliance Checklist

If your business handles credit cards in any way, you need to perform a number of actions to make your e-commerce store compliant.

Whether you have limited or significant infrastructure, you have to implement the requirements across your business model.

There are 6 PCI DSS control objectives that are broken down into 12 requirements and hundreds of actions. Below is a checklist based on the 12 requirements.

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  1. Build and maintain a secure network. Make sure your e-commerce site has a reliable and updated firewall. Also, develop a firewall rule in your work environment that blocks everything and only allows what’s needed.
  2. Change all vendor-supplied passwords and configurations from devices, computers, network equipment to applications. Make sure you maintain an inventory of all the system components.
  3. Avoid storing cardholder data, and if your business model requires so, use secure encryption to protect it. Remember that storing a large amount of client information will turn you into a prime target for cybercriminals.
  4. When transmitting credit card numbers, cardholder information, or passwords over public or private networks, always use a strong encryption tool.
  5. Use reliable antivirus software on any device that is used to access or store cardholder data. Also, keep the software up to date and scan your computers frequently.
  6.  All systems that are used in the cardholder data environment should be continuously updated and patched. This includes operating systems, browsers, applications, and any other offline or online tools.
  7. Employ an access control plan to limit the number of people who can access cardholder information: the fewer the people, the better.
  8. Any individual who has permission to access the data environment should be assigned a unique ID. You should also implement two-factor authentication for employees and business partners.
  9. The physical card data environment should be out of bounds for everyone. Any drive that has sensitive information should be stored in a secure place.
  10.  Keep a close eye on the data environment by monitoring the activities of all the authorized individuals. Do this by reviewing the system event logs every day. This will help you identify a compromise of your web assets.
  11. Frequently conduct tests on your processes, networks, and security systems to ensure they are watertight.
  12.  Develop, implement, and maintain a robust security policy. Educate and train your employees to ensure they understand and adhere to the policy. Make sure you have a response plan in place in case a breach occurs.

Bottom Line

Being PCI compliant doesn’t mean you are completely safe from data breaches. However, it dramatically minimizes the chances of suffering an attack and limits the damage if a breach occurs. Compliant businesses are a tough nut to crack for hackers.

Therefore you shouldn’t be left behind. By being PCI compliant, you are not only securing the future of your business but also building long-term trust with your customers.

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Paschal Okafor is NaijaTechGuide Team Lead. The article PCI DSS Compliance Checklist for your eCommerce Site was written by Abu Obaida. The article was last modified: January 29th, 2020

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