Every time a new customer visits your eCommerce website and finds an item they want to buy, they are either thinking of delivery time or cybersecurity. For delivery, a quick skim through your reviews will tell them everything they need to know about your products and customer service.
However, when dealing with cybersecurity, especially regulatory compliance such as PCI DSS, it’s harder to verify whether the business is compliant. It’s your duty as the proprietor to ease these worries by complying with PCI DSS requirements.
How do you accomplish this?
Understand what is PCI compliance
Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS). It’s a set of compliance standards formulated by the PCI Security Standards Council, which was founded in 2006.
The objective of PCI compliance is to protect sensitive details of the customers, such as cardholder data.
Is compliance Mandatory?
No. Compliance is voluntary as there is no law stipulating that all eCommerce businesses need to comply. However, the best course of action is to comply, especially if you intend to accept card payments. If your business only accepts cash transactions, non-compliance would have little to no impact on your business.
Unfortunately, the norm in the ecommerce industry is to accept card payments. This means that you’ll need to comply since major credit card providers are members of the PCI Security Standards Council.
Ultimately, PCI DSS compliance is necessary for the eCommerce industry as it protects both you and your customers.
How do you achieve compliance?
For starters, understand what PCI DSS compliance entails and its key elements. There are four key elements;
- The PCI compliance requirements
- The 4 merchant levels
- The 4 classifications of compliance
- The concept of scope
You’ll need to know your merchant level as some requirements apply to level 1 but not to the rest. You’ll also need to comply with the PCI requirements, and if you have trouble, you can seek assistance from a QSA.
How many compliance requirements are there?
The PCI DSS has 12 requirements, and each of these requirements has several directives, which brings the total to 281 directives. All these directives are too many, regardless of the size of the company. Companies opt to use a PCI compliance checklist to ensure that they meet all the directives and requirements.
PCI compliance typically takes up to 2 years for larger organizations and about a year for small to mid-sized businesses. The process is extensive, and you might overlook some directives, but with a compliance checklist, you can systematically follow the compliance process.
What is the cost of Compliance?
Small businesses tend to be complacent as they think they have nothing that would warrant the attention of a cyber attacker. Some also think that compliance fees are a revenue stream for merchant processors. However, it’s cheaper compared to recovering from a data breach.
In addition, the cost of compliance varies depending on the merchant level, size of the organization, cardholder environment, etc.
How to maintain Compliance?
PCI compliance is complicated and time-consuming; some would think that accepting the card payments directly from your eCommerce website would make it easier. Unfortunately, this only complicates compliance as you’re processing and storing the data. Instead, opt to use a hosted payment page or even a secured payment gateway.
The most vital detail to remember is that compliance continues even after the QSA leaves your business. Don’t slip back into non-compliance week or months after you achieve your Attestation of Compliance.
You need to embrace a sustainable approach that you can maintain even after the first assessment. Engage a PCI QSA who will guide you through the compliance process and help you implement sustainable practices.
Are there consequences for non-compliance?
Yes. If you decide not to comply, the card companies can revoke your ability to process card transactions. If you experience a cyberattack that results in your cardholder data being compromised, the consequences of non-compliance will only worsen.
Typically, after a data breach, you’d expect lawsuits, remediation costs, audits, forensic investigations, or even cancellation of card privileges. In addition to the monetary implication of the breach, your business will lose its reputation, which will eventually affect your revenue.
PCI compliance is considered complicated, but if you look at the requirements, they are sensible and will protect cardholder data if you adhere to the standards. However, PCI compliance is not enough to offer the protection your customers need. You also need to implement additional measures to strengthen security and improve customer confidence.
Don’t forget that your eCommerce site needs a Secure Socket Layer Certificate. It might seem insignificant, but without it, you’ll suffer as search engines such as Google are adding a “NOT SECURE” disclaimer when users click on view site information. Most users who see this disclaimer will likely opt to shop elsewhere.