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Organizations that handle credit card data may view PCI compliance as a painful but necessary box to check, but being compliant comes with a variety of other benefits. Becoming PCI compliant can improve multiple areas of the business, from cybersecurity and IT to customer experience.

Understanding why PCI compliance is important can help you communicate to your business’ stakeholders that it should be a priority.

What Is PCI Compliance?

Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) is a compliance standard supported and maintained by the PCI Security Standards Council (PCI SSC). It is mandatory for all merchants that accept credit card payments on their website, or any business that store, process or transmit credit, debit card, or prepaid card information. The framework helps ensure that customer data is protected by reducing the risk of credit card data loss in the event of a data breach.

The guidelines for PCI DSS include 12 security requirements grouped into six areas:

  • Build and maintain a secure network and system
  • Protect cardholder data
  • Maintain a vulnerability management program
  • Implement strong access and control measures
  • Regularly monitor and test networks
  • Maintain an information security policy

These requirements don’t apply to all organizations, however; there are four levels of PCI DSS compliance that determine which actions an organization must take. The more transactions an organization completes, the more actions they must take.

Major credit card brands (Visa, American Express, Discover, JCB, and Mastercard) have their own compliance programs, but generally the levels are:

  • Level 1: Merchants that process over 6 million credit card transactions per year
  • Level 2: Merchants that process 1 million to 6 million transactions per year.
  • Level 3: Merchants that process 20,000 to 1 million transactions per year.
  • Level 4: Merchants that processes fewer than 20,000 transactions per year

Organizations can prove their payment security to banks with a self-assessment questionnaire (SAQ); they can choose from 9 different SAQs depending on how they process payments and store credit card information.

4 Benefits of PCI Compliance

Helps Guide Your Information Security Program

Being compliant doesn’t make a business automatically secure, but it does provide a great starting point to becoming more mature from a security perspective. A major barrier — especially for a small business — to building an information security program is simply not knowing where to begin.

PCI DSS provides a framework to get started, with guidelines on how to increase visibility and reduce risk in your environment. In fact, one of the PCI DSS requirements specifies you to maintain an information security program.

Secure Business Data

The number of data breaches at corporations was up more than 68% in 2021 — beating the previous record-breaking rise in 2017, according to the Identity Theft Resource Center. With the rise of cyberattacks such as malware and ransomware, it becomes even more important for e-commerce and other companies that store cardholder data to keep it protected.

Meeting PCI compliance requirements will help organizations improve their security programs by implementing key security controls, reducing the risk of data breaches.

Increases Customer Trust

Victims of security breaches can feel violated, degrading their trust in the company that they gave their data to. 81% of consumers would stop engaging with a brand online following a data breach, according to a Ping Identity study.

Adhering to PCI compliance shows customers that your business cares about their sensitive data, giving them peace of mind that their payment card data is safe.

Avoid Fines and Legal Consequences

This last benefit is perhaps the most tangible and easiest to communicate to the rest of the business’ stakeholders: avoiding the fees associated with non-compliance. These fines are issued on a monthly basis, increasing with each month that a business continues to be non-compliant.

What Happens If You’re Not PCI Compliant? 

Not being PCI compliant means that organizations are more vulnerable to data breaches and cyberattacks. But there are monetary and legal consequences, too.

The fines depend on the size of the business and the degree of non-compliance, but could be up to $100,000 per month until a business resolves the compliance issues. If a business experiences a data breach, the fines range from $50 to $90 for each customer affected.

Both credit card companies and customers affected by a breach can sue a business if it is not PCI compliant, resulting in even more fees. Additionally, a business that’s not PCI compliant risks losing their merchant account, meaning they wouldn’t be able to accept credit card payments at all. 

If you experienced a data breach or ransomware attack, a compliance violation is just the tip of the iceberg; other consequences include costly downtime, forensics and incident response fees, and potential damage to a company’s reputation.  

How Blumira Can Help With PCI Compliance

Blumira’s cloud-based SIEM and security platform is PCI DSS compliant. Log monitoring is a key part of PCI DSS requirements and helps organizations identify suspicious network activity early in order to equip them to contain threats in near real-time.

When it comes to security event logging, reporting, audit trails, anomaly and threat detection, as well as tracking critical security control systems, Blumira helps you both meet and exceed PCI DSS compliance. Contact us for more information on our Attestation of Compliance report.

Learn more about how Blumira specifically helps with PCI compliance requirements.

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