70% of consumers claim that they would stop working with a business in the aftermath of a data breach- that’s how serious most consumers are with the security of their data. Considering that losing their data to cyber criminals would mean possible identity theft and financial losses, their frustrations aren’t unfounded. Along with this high customer churn rate, your business also risks paying hefty fines if a data breach manages to affect it.
While there are diverse ways to strengthen your security posture, complying with industry regulations will help you both improve your security and be on the favorable side of the law. Besides, customers often look at the signs of a business’ compliance with common regulations before they can trust them with their data. Well, in the e-commerce world, complying with PCI DSS is more of a necessity than a luxury.
Here is some insight on PCI DSS compliance and how to comply with it.
What Is PCI DSS Compliance?
PCI DSS are standards that apply to any business that accepts card payments. While it was first established by the top credit card companies in 2004, it has quickly evolved into a security standard that provides online sellers insights on how to prevent data breaches on their transactional data.
The PCI SSC (PCI Security Standard Council) – the council in charge of the regulation- outlined a couple of Data Security Standards (DSS) that merchants were to abide by, regardless of their credit card transaction volumes and revenues. Although the PCI SSC manages and defines the standards, it is the role of the credit card companies to enforce them. In the standard, merchants that handle cardholder data are required to meet 12 requirements to be compliant. While this list of requirements might seem small, it is a little bit complex, and needs some investment to meet.
Should Your E-Commerce Business Work Towards Compliance?
As long as you operate your own self-hosted or on-premise cloud commerce solution, you should be compliant with the PCI DSS. Regardless of whether you own a small e-commerce business or you run multiple e-commerce sites, compliance is a necessity as long as your customers’ credit card data passes through you. PCI DSS compliance is divided into different levels, and your compliance will depend on your credit card transaction volumes.
However, if you operate a SaaS-based store in which you have no access to cardholder data (which is very common among these modern types of e-commerce platforms), your need to be compliant with the regulation is reduced. In this case, the responsibility for compliance is transferred to the SaaS company that receives the data.
PCI Compliance Levels
The first step to determine your compliance requirements is to identify the level in which you belong. PCI DSS compliance comes in four levels, with level 1 being the strictest level and level 4 being less strict.
- As long as your annual card transaction volumes are higher than 6 million, you belong to level 1.
- If your business handles 1-6 million annual card transactions, you belong to level 2.
- In case your business handles between 20,000 and 1 million annual card transactions, you belong to level 3.
- Finally, you belong to level 4 as long as your business handles below 20,000 annual card transactions.
In most cases, SMBs belong to either level 3 or 4. While this means that your e-commerce store will not need to comply with the same requirements as larger organizations, if you belong to these levels, you still have to meet a couple of requirements.
The Three Steps To PCI DSS Compliance
Ideally, the PCI DSS contains security best practices that are commonplace among any system administration team tasked with the role of hosting sensitive corporate data. However, if your team isn’t well versed in these common practices, it would be wise to outsource the compliance task. Compliance will typically take three steps for most businesses, which include:
- Assessment- this will require you to identify any cardholder data that your e-commerce business handles, take inventory of all the processes and IT assets that interact with the data. Lastly, you should analyze all these aspects of your IT infrastructure for vulnerabilities that could lead to the exposure of cardholder data.
- Remediate the vulnerabilities- if you discover any vulnerability, work towards eliminating it. In case you aren’t using the cardholder data, avoid storing it. Many businesses store cardholder data in their e-commerce platforms without any intention to use the information ever again. However, if your business needs to regularly bill customers for a service or product, you might need to store this information.
- Report- to prove compliance you will need to compile and submit remediation validation records as well as submit compliance reports to the card brands and acquiring banks that you do business with.
Complying with PCI DSS will show customers that you take the security of their data seriously. It also helps to keep your e-commerce business safe from the adverse effects of a data breach. Add complying with regulation to your cybersecurity arsenal to improve the sustainability of your business.
Need help? Our WooCommerce Development Service is a complete solution for new or existing WooCommerce websites. Call us at 602-633-4758 for a free consultation.