Credit card processing nowadays is becoming a common practice in many companies worldwide mainly in industrialised and rich countries like the US, European countries, Canada, India, China and the like, primarily because it is far too convenient for businesses to process transactions using this method than using physical cash over the counter.

In turn, clients fall prey to fishing activities by hackers in high-risk credit card processing; causing them to lose money at the same time they lose trust in the company. Thus to avoid this peril, the companies especially those with Merchant IDs and accepts credit cards either online or physical business must be compliant with the standards set by Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI-DSS) or in short PCI.

The PCI-DSS are best practices and standards that Companies must strictly follow when accepting, processing, storing and transmitting credit card information. By following these steps, a company becomes PCI compliant and protects its clients from high-risk credit card processing. High-risk credit card processing may lead to exposing customers’ financial and personal information that could be used for identity thief and other forms of scams. In short, a PCI compliant company is a customer friendly company.

Thus to be a PCI complaint a business entity must consider executing these standards: Build and Maintain a Secure Network, Protect cardholder information, Vulnerability Management Program,  Regularly Analyse and Verify Networks and  Maintain an information security policy

1. Build & Maintain A Secure Network

When putting up a business may it be an SME (Small-Medium Enterprise) or Large Enterprise (LE), it is important to have an IT expert when one builds a network that saves and stores customer data. If there is no professional IT in-house, it is better to build a partnership with a trusted third party contractor to provide a server or network for customer information storage. Two things must be considered to establish a secure network for a company: First is to monitor employee’s access on the server and prevent any of them from disabling the firewall for any reason or purpose. Without firewalls, an unwanted phishing site can pop up in monitor prompting employees and customers to input sensitive information. Second, all employees’ passwords must be updated at all times. Alphanumeric passwords must be used to avoid password hack.

2. Protect Cardholder Information

After electronic transactions, all paper trails must be secured and documented. It should be done by securing a sturdy physical storage e.g. vault for all receipts, invoices, and slips. If the transaction is done manually, all customers’ personal information, passwords, and personal information must be secured in a safe place as well.  When customer’s information is saved and encoded in a network, the information must be secured by passwords or encrypted through trusted third party company firewalls. In such process, you protect cardholder information.

3. Vulnerability Management Program

Computer programs and applications can be vulnerable to viruses, spams and phishing sites; it is imperative for the company to strongly prohibit employees from installing software, games and other applications that may jeopardise the system. The storage system must be protected with trusted anti-virus software.

4. Regularly Analyse & Verify Networks

 The company must have a regular monitoring on customer logs to the system or network. This vital data will be significant for a possible investigation of customer information breach. Thus the third party network provider and IT expert must have to monitor the access performed by the employees to trace any violations. Customer logs may also be used as back up documentation for insurance companies and other agencies.

5. Maintain An Information Security Policy

A merchant must establish an information security call. This protocol must be a guide or reference for employees in handling customers’ personal information. This is to set proper expectations for employees that any breach of customers’ information or disclosure to other unauthorised party is a grave violation. High-level merchant’s e.g. Large enterprise must establish a partnership with a credit card clearing house to draft or design the protocols. Such linkage could help the merchant acquire exclusive master keys or passwords for highly regulated pieces of information.