Major credit card issuers created the Payment Card Industry (PCI) Standards with the intent to protect consumer information and security when credit cards are used as a method of payment online or in person. Any retailer that is a member of the retail payment industry must comply with the standards if they want to accept credit card payments. Because consumers increasingly rely on credit cards during transactions, participation in the PCI compliance standards is critical to the success of small business owners.
Small business owners must comply with the six PCI standards to have access to credit card payment systems. These six standards are the minimum requirements for consumer data integrity. Failure to comply with these rules could result in fines and loss of the ability to process credit card payments.
The network that collects and processes data from consumer credit cards must be secure. Business owners must set up firewalls, password protection and measures to prevent theft of portable devices such as laptops containing customer data must be taken.
If a small business owner chooses to store customer credit card data, the data must be encrypted. During online credit card transactions, all cardholder data must be encrypted with at least a 128-bit SSL certificate during the information transfer process.
Small business owners can take action to prevent data vulnerabilities by maintaining up to date computer hardware and software. Anti-virus, anti-malware and anti-spyware programs must be installed and regularly updated.
Access to consumer credit card information must be strictly controlled. As few people as possible should have access to the data. Each person who uses the data should have unique login information so access can be traced.
Any stored credit card data on networks requires regular security scans. Network access must be monitored and tracked. Small business owners without the on-site capacity to do this could hire a digital security company to handle the task.
Each small business must maintain and document a company-wide information security policy. Anyone with access to consumer credit cards should be aware of the policy, responsibility, and consequences of violations.
Small business owners who comply with PCI policies have many advantages in the marketplace. Consumers more readily make purchases when credit card payments are accepted. They also have a higher trust in businesses with high data security policies regardless of which industry it falls under