How to Achieve PCI Compliance?

Throughout this article, I will attempt to highlight the main steps that one could adhere to, in order to perfectly attain a PCI compliance for an organization.

  1. Understand the importance of the matter

Online shopping is a growing trend according to the buying and selling tendencies witnessed nowadays. Many buyers are though always in a great doubt when dealing with e-commerce website or online shops. This is due to the fact that not all of such sites are secure enough. Credit card details are always in a risk of compromise as a result of such online transactions. What if a retailer just abuses the credit card data or does not secure it appropriately?

For the sake of minimizing this risk, there exists the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS). The PCI Security Standards Council (PCI SSC) designs and sets these standards. In a nutshell, they aim at securing online transactions to a great extent. The credit card companies execute these standards themselves. Every retailer ought to comply with a long checklist before it accepts any means of online payments. This ensures that transactions do operate in a completely safe environment. Such list mainly strives to make sure that data is highly secure and networks are secure as well.

  1. Know what is meant by PCI CompliancePCI Compliance

There are two types of credit card data that need security based on their sensitivity and vitality level. There are some relatively low sensitive data. These include the credit cardholder name, the expiry date of such credit card, service code, and the Primary Account Number (PAN). On the other hand, high sensitive data include PIN blocks, data on the magnetic stripe or similar chip, and CAV2/CVC2/CVV2/CID.

There are several recent security incidents which occurred as a result of both small and large organizations dealing with credit card data. While some security incidents may occur due to poor security practices, the rest result from attacks and

  • Some large retailers got their network hacked, revealing millions of credit card details that were compromised thereafter.
  • Other small organizations keep credit card details unencrypted on an old Personal Computer (PC). They do this without paying any tiny attention to maintaining any security levels towards such sensitive data.
  • Some other relatively big retailers update credit card details on an advanced server, yet they ignore encrypting such data for security.


  1. Determine PCI Compliance LevelsPCI Compliance

There is one mere case where PCI compliance is not necessary. Whenever Software as a Service (SaaS) is in use and a merchant does not get any access to credit card details, then it does not have to operate under PCI standards compliance. Otherwise, it does not really matter whether how big or small an organization is, or whether a retailer holds an on-premise or self-hosted cloud commerce solution. Retailers who utilize online payments ought to meet and comply with PCI standards.

Now, there is what we call PCI Compliance level with level one indicating the maximum level to achieve and as the level number increases, the level of strictness decrease. Accordingly, level four is considered as the least strict level. Determining a level mainly relies on both online payment gateways and store point-of-sale means summed up all together taking into consideration both credit and debit card transactions. For example, if the number of transactions conducted by a retailer is really high while their online transactions are comparably low, this seller has to conform to the highest level of PCI standards.

In this regard, I can divide these levels into three essential categories:

  • More than one million transactions per year move an organization into level one and two
  • More than twenty-thousand transactions make an organization follow level three
  • Less than twenty-thousand transactions move an organization into level four
  1. Avoid any non-compliance penaltyPCI Compliance

A very common dilemma which small and medium businesses (SMBs) usually encounter lies in the fact that PCI compliance cost them some amount of money, although their levels are between 4 and 3, while their non-compliance lead them to a breach which in turn results in a great penalty imposed for the following year. For instance, such violating businesses are automatically considered as they are in level one for the one year, costing them a miserably tremendous amount of money.

In some other cases, these merchants are charged with tedious fines, or they are forced to afford costly judicial audits. Banks may even decide to cut off a non-compliant business or apply additional fines on them.

  1. Hire someone qualified for PCI compliancePCI Compliance

This step is necessary if an organization needs to accurately comply with PCI standards. Not only will this provide a real insight about the measurements to take in order to achieve CPI compliance, but also it will benefit the company from avoiding any fines or unneeded charges. For most organizations follow level three or four, the role of a PCI consultant is of great importance. This will assist such organization in achieving three main security features:

  • Evaluate the security team exist and investigate to what extent credit card details are secure.
  • Issue methods to overcome any existing security issues, related to credit card details. To illustrate, it is always recommendable to get the assistance from a qualified third-party company. They could store such critical information instead of the organisation itself.
  • Report all these remediation records that took place in the security structure of an organization to concerned banks and card brands.
  1. Contact the merchant bank and know what documents need to be submitted according to the type of businessPCI Compliance

  2. Complete the Self-Assessment Questionnaire (SAQ)PCI Compliance

The type of an issued SAQ depends in the first place on the last step. This step counts into the last step where organizations of level three and four could complete SAQ by that hired buddy for PCI standards. Being a short survey ranging between five and six pages, it is tempting for SMBs to fabricate the answers. The SMBs ought to answer the survey questions honestly in order to assure a successful achievement of CPI compliance. Similarly, this evades the hassle of receiving a troublesome penalty as discussed earlier.



This post was written by Joseph McCray

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