updated - May 9, 2021 Sunday EDT
Payment security is a major issue, given the rise in cyberattacks. Reports released by the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse show that cybercriminals have compromised more than 11 billion consumer records since 2005. The law compels companies that handle card payments to comply with the PCI DSS controls (Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard).
Businesses can validate compliance by aligning security controls with information published by the PCI council. By maintaining PCI compliance, companies mitigate against data breaches and fraud risk. Unlike in the past, leading credit card companies employ one standard policy that acts as a baseline for preventing breaches and fraud.
Tech experts from various companies across the United States recently shared tips on maximizing payment security and maintaining PCI compliance. Here is what they had to say.
According to Demetrius Cassidy of In The Cloud Technologies, the first step entails evaluating how your company handles card data. He says this step is vital because companies deal with card information differently. Also, transaction volume is a key factor influencing how an organization approaches payment security and compliance issues.
For Carl Fransen of CTECH Consulting Group, organizations should take critical steps encompassing three areas: response, audit, and education. Many companies lack in-depth knowledge of PCI compliance. Hence, companies need to familiarize themselves with the relevant PCI requirements. The payment card industry council publishes comprehensive documentation regarding security controls and standards.
Additionally, Fransen recommends implementing robust audits and other security-related protocols to meet the compliance requirements. IT companies can help perform comprehensive audits to ensure that these systems are secure.
Mike Shelah of Advantage Industries recommends enlisting compliance support from credit processing companies. Taking advantage of this service safeguards customer's financial data. Card processing firms typically provide enhanced features to maximize credit card and transaction security. In addition, the companies assist with auditing and remediation in the event of a breach.
According to Ian Brady, an IT expert at Steadfast Solutions, organizations can simplify card security by linking the customer interface directly with a vendor's system. Once connected to the PCI compliant system, companies eliminate the need to worry about compliance. For this reason, the ideal vendor possesses the required cybersecurity certifications and complies with PCI requirements.
Brady warns against storing sensitive customers' financial data on file. Instead, businesses should adopt a 1:1 ratio with the vendor. The IT expert also recommends protecting credit card information by enforcing mail filtration rules.
Duleep Pillai of Veltec Networks highlighted the need for firms to conduct thorough assessments of existing security measures. Doing so makes it easier to identify vulnerabilities that compromise overall card security. IT service providers can initiate remediation steps to resolve any detected issues. Pillai urges companies to embrace a multi-layered approach to card security.
Cassidy believes that gaining clients' confidence and trust is a major advantage of meeting PCI compliance requirements. Trust is a critical factor in both B2B and B2C activities. Companies that enjoy high levels of customer trust gain a competitive edge in their industries.
Compliance plays an integral role in safeguarding card transactions, says Carl Fransen. This aspect ensures that the card processing firm does not withdraw services following a breach or negligence. In turn, an organization maintains operational integrity.
On the other hand, Shelah highlighted reduced liability, thanks to the limited risk of breaches. Adopting appropriate cybersecurity policies and procedures helps reduce the fees associated with audits, remediation, and penalties. Reducing the risk of fraudulent activities and breaches is vital. Reports show that up to 70 percent of businesses with a workforce of less than 200 fail to recover from the financial impact of a cyberattack.
According to Demetrius Cassidy, the most significant payment data threats include unsecured public databases, open ports, and weak passwords. Companies need to rectify these issues by ensuring that all passwords are strong, protecting databases with SSL encryption, and other robust measures.
Carl Fransen emphasized the need to avoid negligence when it comes to handling payment cards. Negligence allows cybercriminals to compromise payment security multiple times before the organization detects the breach.
For Shelah, human error represents the most significant threat to payment data. He urges organizations to invest in extensive user awareness training for their workforce. Staff needs to understand the importance of reinforcing payment security, and the organization must provide access to resources that enable employees to maximize security.
Meanwhile, Ian Brady highlighted data breaches as a critical threat to customers' sensitive financial data. He believes regular audits help companies identify weaknesses and rectify them.
PCI compliance helps streamline payment processes by eliminating manual tasks, says Ian Brady. Organizations enhance operational efficiency by allowing customers to manage payments. However, Mike Shelah believes that firms should not link compliance to operational efficiency. He argued that an increase in payment security procedures slows down some operational aspects.
In the meantime, Cassidy noted that compliance streamlines the decision-making process for organizations. Employees handle the data more efficiently because they understand procedures well. On the other hand, companies reduce the risk of penalties in the event of breaches.
Ian Brady believes that customers are looking for flexibility and empowerment when it comes to online payments. Hence, companies should respond by providing solutions that enable customers to feel secure and empowered.
An independent PCI audit provides a practical solution to enhance PCI compliance and payment security, says Mike Shelah. Third-party service providers can help businesses conduct comprehensive audits. The audits entail identifying security gaps and formulating a viable remediation plan. Once the IT firm resolves the issues, the next stage is the ongoing proactive monitoring of payment security and other data protection measures.
Ongoing cybersecurity services encompass antivirus updates, network monitoring, policy updates, and dark web monitoring. Shelah urges companies to conduct audits at least once every 36 months. Doing so ensures that the security measures follow specific PCI compliance guidelines.
Demetrius Cassidy also recommends working closely with experienced cybersecurity consultants if there are any uncertainties about PCI compliance.
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