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PCI and Cloud Compliance in the Modern Age

May 22, 2020

Today, many of us rely on the convenience of online shopping to quickly purchase items we couldn’t find in neighborhood stores or to simply avoid having to go to the store altogether. Online payments also make it possible to secure plane tickets, make hotel reservations, and even pay bills. However, the payment landscape that we know now developed over time. The real boom in online shopping can be traced back to the emergence of the internet. From then on, payment card data continued to be used more widely and transmitted on a global level. In response, individual card providers began their own programs to ensure certain levels of protection, but it wasn’t until 2004 that the Payment Card Industry Security Standards Council (PCI SSC) created global standards. Today, the Council is tasked with the additional challenge of creating regulations in the age of cloud computing. At the same time, businesses must comply with and validate these requirements.

This post will take a closer look at current PCI and Cloud Compliance regulations and different ways that businesses are meeting compliance standards.

PCI Data Security Requirements

The PCI has created a total of twelve different compliance requirements that are organized into six groups known as “control objectives”:

  1. Build and Maintain a Secure Network and Systems
  2. Protect Cardholder Data
  3. Maintain a Vulnerability Management Program
  4. Implement Strong Access Control Measures
  5. Regularly Monitor and Test Networks
  6. Maintain an Information Security Policy

While some of the details and sub-categories pertaining to control objectives have changed over time, these core values have been in place since the inception of the PCI SSC.

Validating PCI Compliance

Validation of PCI and Cloud Compliance can be conducted on several different levels according to how many transactions they handle on a yearly basis. More transactions require increased levels of scrutiny and compliance validation.

Level 1 companies that process over 6 million transactions in the course of a year will need to be evaluated by a Qualified Security Assessor (QSA) who is an independent evaluator who has been certified by the PCI SSC. They are responsible for evaluating compliance according to certain criteria.

In addition, all Level 1 companies are required to fill out a Report on Compliance (ROC) when they undergo an audit. This document is used to outline in detail all the policies and strategies that are being used to prevent cardholders from becoming the victims of fraud.

Businesses that fall in the Level 2 category and process between 1 and 6 million transactions will be required to use an Internal Security Assessor (ISA). This individual is a member of the company who has earned a PCI SSC certification. This allows them to conduct self-assessments. They may be asked to work closely with QSAs to ensure compliance.

PCI SSC also requires that all companies fill out a self-assessment questionnaire (SAQ) every year. If the assessment reveals that the company is not fully compliant in certain areas, they must provide a plan for full implementation and show that they are able and willing to address the problem.

Benefits of PCI SSC Compliance and Validation

The goal of PCI SSC is to protect both consumers and merchants. When a consumer is subject to a scam or fraud, the consequences can be far-reaching. Their personal information can be compromised, their credit scores can be affected, and much more. Merchants who experience a breach can face financial liabilities and the loss of consumer trust, which can significantly hurt business. Compliance is a vital aspect of maintaining healthy global markets where both merchants and shoppers can operate confidently.

How to Improve Your PCI SSC Compliance

Prancer is one tool that allows companies with a PCI and Cloud Compliance validation framework that can test for compliance along the entire development and implementation pipeline. This allows for both pre and post-deployment validation so that you can create a strong foundation and continue to test and make changes as needed. Not only does this improve security and compliance, it allows DevOps teams to avoid delays and continue to safely deploy new applications.

If you handle card payments and need help with your PCI SSC compliance strategies, contact prancer today. We can help you improve security, meet global regulations and earn the trust of consumers.