How PCI Compliance Can Help Retailers Protect Against Data Breaches
PCI (payment card industry) compliance may not be a term you hear as often as a small business owner. However, it has noteworthy impact to the level of risk your business assumes in payment processing if you accept credit and debit cards from customers as a form of payment.
Despite media headlines that tend to focus on significant data breaches that impact major retailers and government entities — and the millions of customers whose data may be conceded when such a breach occurs — small businesses are particularly at risk for a payment security breach. In fact, experts estimate over 60 percent of security breaches target small to midsized businesses. Often, smaller businesses are targeted merely because they're perceived as easy targets by hackers who presume (often, correctly) that a small business won’t have the proper security standards in place that make it difficult for thieves to access sensitive payment data that they can use to commit further fraud.
Though your business isn't legally obliged to obey the security standards that determine PCI compliance, the cost of not following its mandates can be overwhelming. If your business is a victim of a breach and the subsequent investigation determines your payment security and point-of-sale processes aren't PCI compliant, you could face upward of thousands of dollars in costs associated with the aftermath of the breach, including responsibility for the re-issuance of customer payment cards, fees, fines and potential law suits.
The guide below offers a closer look at how PCI compliance relates directly to your business, and provides some helpful restrictions to help you identify which PCI-compliance standards your business should adhere to based on the channels in which you sell and your annual debit and credit card transaction volume.
In addition, the guide explores why some security procedures presumed to ensure a safe transaction environment may not be adequate to stop a payment security breach — and why relying on these tools isn’t synonymous with PCI compliance. This resource also reviews why PCI-compliant security standards change regularly, as well as offers tips on how to conduct vulnerability scans within your business to ensure the highest level of security during transaction processing.
Lastly, I’ll recommend best practices small businesses owners can leverage to lower exposure to needless security risks when it comes to POS procedures and internal processes staff must follow to reduce the risk of a physical or cyber breach. Resources are suggested to help you identify qualified PCI-compliant partners that can help you conduct network security audits, and guide your business in performing comprehensive vulnerability scans to identify potential areas for improvement. These are based on the latest iteration of PCI-compliance standards set forth by the Payment Security Council.
While making sense of PCI compliance can be overwhelming to a business of any size, our mission is to help small business owners understand why following this set of standards is so important to protecting against risk.
Kristen Gramigna is chief marketing officer at BluePay, a credit card processing firm.