PCI DSS Compliance Service

The Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) establishes essential requirements for securing credit card data within your organization. If you process any kind of cardholder information, compliance with these standards is crucial. Recent modifications have been implemented concerning PCI DSS, hence necessitating a reevaluation of your existing procedures to guarantee continued compliance.

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Achieve PCI DSS compliance and fortify payment card security

Finding the right PCI DSS compliance certification partner is crucial for businesses of all sizes and industries. With numerous providers in the market, the challenge is not just finding a PCI DSS audit and compliance certification service provider, but finding the right one that matches your unique needs, industry requirements, and budget. That's where our unique matchmaker service comes in.

Top PCI Consultancies that fit your budget, need & timeline

At our platform, we specialize in connecting businesses with top-rated PCI DSS consultants tailored to meet their specific needs. Whether you're a startup looking for your first PCI DSS certification or a multinational corporation seeking to improve your compliance posture, we can help you find the perfect match. We work with a wide network of reputable PCI DSS compliance consultants who have proven expertise and a strong track record in their field.

Our curated network of PCI DSS providers are experts in handling complex regulatory challenges across a variety of industries including retail, financial services, healthcare, e-commerce, and more. They understand that achieving and maintaining PCI DSS compliance isn't just about avoiding fines—it's about enhancing your business's reputation, strengthening customer trust, and ultimately improving your bottom line.


here are six frequently asked questions about PCI DSS along with their answers.

What is PCI DSS?

The Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) is a set of security standards designed to ensure that all companies that accept, process, store, or transmit credit card information maintain a secure environment.

Who needs to comply with PCI DSS?

Any organization, regardless of its size or transaction volume, that accepts, transmits, or stores any cardholder data is required to comply with PCI DSS. This includes merchants, service providers, and other entities involved in payment card processing.

What are the consequences of not being PCI DSS compliant?

Non-compliance with PCI DSS can result in hefty fines imposed by the card brands and banks, damage to your company's reputation, loss of customer trust, and in severe cases, the loss of the ability to accept credit card payments. Furthermore, in the event of a data breach, non-compliance can result in even more severe penalties.

What are the main requirements of PCI DSS?

PCI DSS is composed of 12 main requirements divided into six control objectives: Build and maintain a secure network (requirements 1 and 2), Protect cardholder data (requirements 3 and 4), Maintain a vulnerability management program (requirements 5 and 6), Implement strong access control measures (requirements 7, 8 and 9), Regularly monitor and test networks (requirements 10 and 11), and Maintain an information security policy (requirement 12).

What is the difference between a PCI DSS audit and a PCI DSS self-assessment?

A PCI DSS audit is a thorough review conducted by a Qualified Security Assessor (QSA) for Level 1 merchants, those who process over 6 million transactions per year. A PCI DSS self-assessment is a validation tool for merchants and service providers not required to undergo an on-site assessment. It involves filling out a Self-Assessment Questionnaire (SAQ) to demonstrate compliance with the PCI DSS requirements.

Does PCI DSS compliance apply if I only accept credit cards over the phone?

Yes, PCI DSS compliance applies to all channels where cardholder data is processed, including phone (also known as Card Not Present transactions). The requirements aim to secure cardholder data no matter how it is processed, stored, or transmitted.

What are the 12 requirements of PCI DSS?

The PCI DSS, which stands for Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard, is composed of 12 primary requirements grouped into six categories.

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Build and Maintain a Secure Network and Systems

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

Firewalls are devices that control computer traffic allowed between an entity’s networks (internal) and untrusted networks (external), as well as traffic into and out of more sensitive areas within an entity’s internal trusted networks. This requirement involves the use of firewalls to create a virtual barrier around the organization’s network, protecting sensitive cardholder data from unauthorized access.

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

System components like routers, switches, firewalls, and servers often come with default passwords set by the vendor to help with initial installation and setup. These passwords are usually common and well-known to attackers, and they’ll often try these defaults first when attempting to compromise a system.

This requirement mandates the changing of these default passwords before the system is used in a live environment. It also implies that other security parameters should be appropriately configured in line with industry best practices and your organization’s security policies. This could include things like disabling unnecessary services or accounts, setting password complexity requirements, enabling logging, and more.

By doing these two things—installing and maintaining a secure firewall configuration and not using vendor-supplied defaults for system passwords and security parameters—an organization can substantially reduce the risk of a data breach or other security incidents.


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Protect Cardholder Data

2.1 Protect stored cardholder data.

PCI DSS requirement 2.1 emphasizes the need for organizations to safeguard any cardholder data they store. This entails implementing specific security measures to reduce the risk associated with storing sensitive data. These may include minimizing the amount of data you store (do not store data unless it’s necessary), securely deleting data that’s no longer needed, and using strong cryptographic controls when data must be stored.

For example, sensitive data elements such as the card verification code or value (three or four-digit number printed on the front or back of payment cards) must never be stored after authorization. Other cardholder data elements, such as the PAN (Primary Account Number), must be rendered unreadable anywhere it is stored, which typically involves cryptographic techniques like encryption, tokenization, or truncation.

Encrypt transmission of cardholder data across open, public networks

When transmitting cardholder data over public networks (like the internet), there’s a risk that the data could be intercepted and stolen. Requirement 2.2 mandates that organizations encrypt this data during transmission to protect it from potential eavesdropping or data tampering.

The encryption works by transforming the information into a code that can only be accessed with the right decryption key. This means that even if the data is intercepted during transmission, it would be unreadable and thus useless to anyone without the decryption key.

The standard doesn’t specify a particular encryption method, but it does require the use of strong cryptography and security protocols to safeguard sensitive cardholder data during transmission over open, public networks. Some common protocols used for this purpose include IPSEC, SSL/TLS, and SSH.

By adhering to these requirements, organizations ensure that cardholder data is protected both at rest and in transit, significantly reducing the likelihood of a data breach.

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Maintain a Vulnerability Management Program

3.1 Protect all systems against malware and regularly update antivirus software or programs.

Requirement 3.1 focuses on the importance of safeguarding all systems within an organization from malware. Malware is malicious software designed to cause damage to a computer network or gain unauthorized access. Types of malware include viruses, worms, ransomware, spyware, and more. Organizations should deploy antivirus solutions on all systems that are commonly affected by malware. These solutions should be kept current, actively running, and incapable of being disabled or altered by users, unless specifically authorized by management on a case-by-case basis for a limited time period. Regularly updating these software programs ensures they have the latest virus signatures and can detect and prevent the most recent threats.

3.2 Develop and maintain secure systems and applications.

Requirement 3.2 emphasizes the necessity for secure development and ongoing maintenance of systems and applications. Security needs to be considered and implemented throughout the entire lifecycle of systems and applications. This includes adopting secure coding practices to avoid common coding vulnerabilities, conducting thorough code reviews, and implementing rigorous testing procedures before deployment.

This requirement also encompasses the practice of patch management. Software vendors often release updates or patches to fix known security vulnerabilities in their products. Organizations need a process to identify, verify, test, and install these patches in a timely manner. This practice ensures their systems and applications remain secure against known vulnerabilities.

By adhering to these requirements, organizations can protect their systems and data against potential malware attacks and other security threats, reducing the likelihood of a data breach.

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Implement Strong Access Control Measures

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

This requirement asserts that access to sensitive cardholder data should be given only when it’s necessary for job responsibilities. This principle, known as the ‘least privilege’ principle, reduces the risk of unauthorized access or data leaks by ensuring that people only have access to the data and resources required for their role. The ‘need to know’ access must be enforced through a mechanism that restricts access based on a user’s role and authorization level. It requires regular review and revocation of access rights when individuals change roles or leave the organization.

4.2 Identify and authenticate access to system components

PCI compliance requirement 4.2 states that each individual with computer access should be assigned a unique ID and must authenticate their identity before accessing system components. This ensures that actions taken on critical data and systems are performed by, and can be traced back to, known and authorized users. Authentication methods could include something the user knows (password or PIN), something the user has (token or smart card), or something the user is (biometrics).

4.3 Restrict physical access to cardholder data

This requirement emphasizes the need to prevent unauthorized physical access to areas where cardholder data is processed or maintained. It also includes visitor control and monitoring. Physical access control measures might include facility entry controls, like access control systems or locks, surveillance cameras, and maintaining a visitor log. Also, any physical media (like paper receipts, reports, or digital media) containing cardholder data must be physically secured to prevent unauthorized access.

These measures ensure that access to cardholder data, both digital and physical, is strictly controlled and limited to authorized personnel only, thereby reducing the potential for accidental or intentional data breaches.

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Regularly Monitor and Test Networks

5.1 Track and monitor all access to network resources and cardholder data

This requirement stresses the importance of continuous monitoring and logging of all activity related to network resources and cardholder data. It involves generating audit logs and tracking the usage of all system components to ensure that all actions, including access to cardholder data, can be traced back to a specific user.

This monitoring should capture details such as user identification, type of event, date and time, success or failure indication, origination of event, and identity or name of affected data, system component, or resource. Regular review of these logs helps in early detection of suspicious activities that could indicate a data breach or attempted breach.

5.2 Regularly test security systems and processes

Requirement 5.2 highlights the need for regular testing of security systems and processes. The aim here is to ensure that the organization’s security controls continue to function effectively over time and adapt to changes in the environment, such as new threats or changes in the organization’s network or systems.

This could involve various types of testing methods, including vulnerability scans, penetration testing, and checks for the presence of wireless access points. Also, it includes verifying the functionality of all in-place security controls. It’s important that these tests are conducted by qualified personnel and any identified vulnerabilities are promptly addressed and patched.

By fulfilling these requirements, organizations can maintain a high level of visibility into their network activities and ensure their security measures are functioning as intended, thus significantly reducing the risk of a data breach.

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Maintain an Information Security Policy

6.1 Maintain a policy that addresses information security for all personnel

This requirement highlights the importance of having a formal, well-documented, and comprehensive information security policy in place that applies to all personnel. This policy should serve as the cornerstone of an organization’s security program, setting the framework for how the organization protects cardholder data and establishing clear expectations for employees in terms of their role in maintaining security.

The information security policy should cover a broad range of topics, including but not limited to:

    • The roles and responsibilities of different personnel in securing cardholder data.
    • The organization’s data protection procedures and controls.
    • Details of the security measures employed by the organization, such as firewall configurations, system access controls, physical security controls, and more.
    • Procedures for responding to security incidents or suspected data breaches.
    • Requirements for ongoing security training and awareness programs for all personnel.

The policy should be communicated to all personnel and should be reviewed and updated at least annually, or whenever significant changes occur in the organization’s environment or processes. It should also be disseminated and accepted by all relevant stakeholders in the organization, ensuring everyone is aware of and understands their role in maintaining security.

In summary, Requirement 6.1 emphasizes the importance of having a well-defined and regularly updated information security policy that helps set the direction and scope for an organization’s security efforts. It ensures everyone within the organization understands their responsibility towards maintaining a secure environment for cardholder data.

PCI DSS Compliance Certification

PCI DSS Compliance Services typically include a broad range of activities designed to help an organization become and remain compliant with the PCI DSS. Here are some key services often covered:

PCI DSS Gap Analysis

This involves identifying areas where your business falls short of the PCI DSS requirements. It acts as a roadmap for your compliance journey, helping you understand what needs to be addressed.

PCI DSS Risk Assessment

This is a process of identifying vulnerabilities, threats, and risks to cardholder data within your environment. It helps prioritize your remediation efforts.

PCI DSS Remediation Support

PCI remediation is the process of addressing the vulnerabilities or non-compliances found during the gap analysis and risk assessment. It may involve changes in procedures, technology, or both.

PCI DSS Scope Reduction

Reducing the scope of PCI DSS can simplify compliance efforts. This could involve implementing technologies like tokenization, point-to-point encryption, or network segmentation.

PCI DSS Pen Testing and Vulnerability Scanning

Regular penetration testing and vulnerability scanning are required by the PCI DSS. These tests ensure that your environment remains secure and that your controls are working effectively.

PCI DSS Awareness Training

PCI DSS training is crucial for helping employees understand the importance of PCI DSS and their role in maintaining compliance.

PCI DSS Self-Assessment Questionnaire (SAQ) Assistance

The facilitated PCI SAQ program is a validation for merchants and service providers that are not required to undergo an onsite assessment.

PCI DSS Audit Support & Report on Compliance (RoC)

The RoC is a form for documenting details of the entity assessed, what was tested, and the results of that testing. It must be completed by a Qualified Security Assessor (QSA) for Level 1 merchants.

Implementation of Required Controls

This involves establishing the necessary security controls to meet PCI DSS requirements, which may include firewall configurations, development of policies and procedures, implementing encryption, etc.

PCI DSS Incident Response Plan

Creating a detailed plan for how your organization will handle a potential data breach is an essential part of PCI DSS compliance.

Continuous Monitoring & Reporting

Ongoing services to help maintain PCI DSS compliance, which may involve regular scans, checks, and updates to ensure controls remain effective.

Third-Party Risk Management

This involves establishing the necessary security controls to meet PCI DSS requirements, which may include firewall configurations, development of policies and procedures, implementing encryption, etc.

PCI DSS Consulting

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Our curated network of PCI DSS providers are experts in handling complex regulatory challenges across a variety of industries including retail, financial services, healthcare, e-commerce, and more. They understand that achieving and maintaining PCI DSS compliance isn't just about avoiding fines—it's about enhancing your business's reputation, strengthening customer trust, and ultimately improving your bottom line.

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