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Common Mistakes Businesses Make When it Comes to PCI Compliance and Guidance on How to Avoid Them

Common Mistakes Businesses Make When it Comes to PCI Compliance and Guidance on How to Avoid Them

Blog Article Published: 08/28/2023

Originally published by CyberGuard Compliance.

Written by Eric Hilden.

Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) compliance is essential for businesses that handle credit card information. Compliance with PCI DSS ensures that businesses maintain a secure environment for cardholder data, reducing the risk of data breaches and protecting customer trust. However, achieving and maintaining PCI compliance can be challenging, and many businesses make common mistakes along the way. In this blog, we will highlight some of these mistakes and provide guidance on how to avoid them.


Mistake 1 - Neglecting Regular Security Assessments

Neglecting Regular Security Assessments One of the most common mistakes is failing to conduct regular security assessments. PCI DSS requires periodic vulnerability scans and penetration tests to identify and address security weaknesses. Many businesses mistakenly believe that passing the initial compliance assessment is enough. However, security threats evolve continuously, making regular assessments crucial. To avoid this mistake, businesses should schedule and conduct assessments according to PCI DSS requirements, ensuring they are up to date with the latest security measures.


Mistake 2 - Storing Cardholder Data Storing cardholder data

Storing Cardholder Data Storing cardholder data is a significant compliance risk. PCI DSS mandates that businesses should not store sensitive authentication data after authorization, such as full track data or CVV codes. Storing such data significantly increases the risk of a data breach. To avoid this mistake, businesses should implement tokenization or encryption to protect cardholder data. By tokenizing sensitive information, businesses can replace the data with a randomly generated token, ensuring that even if a breach occurs, the actual cardholder data remains secure.


Mistake 3 - Weak Passwords and Insecure Authentication

Weak passwords and insecure authentication methods pose a significant risk to PCI compliance. Using easily guessable passwords or sharing passwords among employees can compromise the security of cardholder data. It is essential to enforce strong password policies, including a combination of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and special characters. Implementing multi-factor authentication (MFA) adds an extra layer of security, making it harder for unauthorized individuals to gain access. By avoiding these mistakes, businesses can strengthen their overall security posture.


Mistake 4 - Lack of Employee Awareness and Training

Lack of Employee Awareness and Training Employee education and awareness play a vital role in maintaining PCI compliance. Many data breaches occur due to human error or negligence. Businesses should provide comprehensive training to employees on their roles and responsibilities regarding data security. This training should cover topics such as handling cardholder data securely, recognizing phishing attempts, and understanding social engineering techniques. By fostering a culture of security awareness, businesses can minimize the risk of non-compliance due to human factors.


Mistake 5 - Non-Compliant Third-Party Service Providers

Non-Compliant Third-Party Service Providers Businesses often rely on third-party service providers for various aspects of their operations, such as payment processors or hosting providers. However, failing to ensure that these providers are PCI compliant can lead to non-compliance for the business itself. It is crucial to conduct due diligence and verify the compliance status of any third-party service providers. Obtain written agreements that outline their responsibilities for maintaining PCI compliance and regularly monitor their compliance status to avoid any potential compliance pitfalls.

PCI compliance is a crucial aspect of ensuring the security of cardholder data and maintaining customer trust. By being aware of common mistakes and taking proactive measures to avoid them, businesses can minimize their risk of non-compliance and potential data breaches. Regular security assessments, secure handling of cardholder data, strong authentication methods, employee training, and careful selection of third-party service providers are all vital steps in achieving and maintaining PCI compliance. By prioritizing these measures, businesses can protect sensitive data, maintain customer trust, and mitigate the risks associated with non-compliance.

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