PCI DSS: Roadmap To Compliance

The long-term goal of PCI compliance is way beyond just keeping cardholder data secure. It also helps companies build trust with their customers and, in essence, secure a long-lasting relationship with them, positively impacting the overall business growth and success.

The PCI Data Security includes a PCI requirements checklist that must be strictly adhered to by merchants who store sensitive card data and process payments and other credit, debit, or prepaid card information.

The PCI DSS In Four Levels

As previously stated, the PCI DSS offers requirements that help merchants and organizations to protect payment data and avoid theft. And the first step is to evaluate your PCI level and how to best implement rules. You’ll need an Attestation of Compliance Form and a quarterly network scan.

The four levels of PCI compliance are categorized based on the number of transactions a company handles yearly. The first level concerns merchants that process over 6 million credit card transactions annually.

The second level is for merchants handling between one million to six million annual transactions, while the third is for those between 20,000 and one million. And the fourth level is small merchants with less than 20,000 annual transactions.

How To Determine Your PCI DSS Level?

You must know your PCI DSS level to apply the PCI requirement to your customers’ data security. You can access this information using your provider’s reporting software or collaborating with your merchant service provider.

As a result of the company’s large annual transactions and operations, Level 1-3 merchants are more specific in their compliance criteria and tend to have more enforcement departments and internal IT. This should help track compliance systems and enforce departments.

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Merchants who fall under the fourth category are usually small and medium-sized ventures. And while the enforcement procedures are straightforward and less cumbersome than the others, businesses in this category often find it hard to fulfill the requirements if they do not have an internal IT infrastructure.

Self-Assessment Questionnaire

The Self-Assessment Questionnaire, also known as SAQ, is necessary for completion by retailers and is largely determined by how merchants accept card-not-present (eComm or MOTO) payments. However, they should not transmit, process, or store cardholder data on their premises systems.

SAQ-B must be fulfilled by business owners harnessing a standalone dial-out terminal with no electronic data storage. Reaching out to your payment provider or the PCI SSC will help guide the best option.

PCI Compliance Roadmap 

A viable PCI compliance roadmap will help you drive your efforts in the right direction. Here are guides that will help in the right direction.

PCI DSS Step 1: Determine The Environment Of The Cardholder Data

Define the scope of the PCI assessment. It is one of the highly significant aspects of the audit process that determines how successful a PCI engagement turns. PCI determines the cardholder environment as the systems involved in storing, processing, and transmitting cardholder data could affect how secure cardholder data is.

These extensive criteria could make large portions of a company’s environment subject to the assessment. So, understanding the technologies and tools needed is a very crucial aspect. For instance, the VLAN segmentation can lessen the size of the CDE.

PCI DSS Step 2: Understand Every Aspect Of The Requirement

Ensure to have a solid understanding of the requirement. You can answer one of your questions with the Guidance column in the DSS. If you consider each requirement in isolation without merging them with other documents, you might have a poor understanding of the total PCI requirements. They are specific and should not be subjective.

PCI DSS Step 3: Understand The Evidence Requirements

Unlike the other compliance audits, you’ll need the QSA to implement PCI requirements to carry out testing processes specifically prescribed that outlines the types of evidence to be provided for review.

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A viable approach to a solid understanding of the evidence detail and depth required for fulfilling compliance is to carry out test procedure reviews in the Report on Compliance (RoC) template, which is the primary report the QSA completes during an assessment.

PCI DSS Step 4: Conduct A Risk-Based Implementation Approach

Most organizations, big or small, have a tough time implementing the PCI requirements – especially considering its over 250 sub-requirements. However, you can reduce the toughness of the process by harnessing the Prioritized Approach Tool offered by the PCI Security Standards Council (SSC) available in the PCI Document Library.

The Prioritized Approach tool creates different categories of each sub-requirement by milestone based on risk while making it possible for your company to track and report how progressive your PCI implementation process is.

PCI DSS Step 5: Do A Readiness Assessment

You’ll need to involve a QSA company to finalize a readiness assessment. You need to plan adequately and have a firm with experienced QSAs to ensure your company is on track with the assessment. With this, your company can have a feel of a full PCI DSS assessment, have time to identify and remediate gaps and align expectations with the QSA.

Despite the challenge faced with PCI DSS compliance, a well-planned roadmap can position your company for a journey in heightening security around cardholder’s data.

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Ella Marcotte

Jonathon Spire

Jonathon Spire

Tech Blogger at Jonathon Spire

My diverse background started with my computer science degree, and later progressed to building laptops and accessories. And now, for the last 7 years, I have been a social media marketing specialist and business growth consultant.

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Jonathon Spire

I blog about a range of tech topics.

For the last 7 years I have been a social media marketing specialist and business growth consultant, so I write about those the most.

Full transparency: I do review a lot of services and I try to do it as objectively as possible; I give honest feedback and only promote services I believe truly work (for which I may or may not receive a commission) – if you are a service owner and you think I have made a mistake then please let me know in the comments section.

– Jon