PCI DSS stands for Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard. It was developed by the major credit card companies as a guideline to help organizations that process card payments prevent credit card fraud, hacking and various other security vulnerabilities and threats. A company processing, storing, or transmitting payment card data must be PCI DSS compliant or risk losing their ability to process credit card payments and being audited and/or fined. Merchants and payment card service providers must validate their compliance periodically.
This validation gets conducted by auditors – i.e. persons who are the PCI DSS Qualified Security Assessors (QSAs). Although individuals receive QSA status reports, compliance can only be signed off by an individual QSA on behalf of a PCI council approved consultancy. Smaller companies, processing fewer than about 80,000 transactions a year, are allowed to perform a self-assessment questionnaire. TMC is committed to helping you insulate your business against credit card fraud and the fines that can ensue. We hope the information in this section helps you better understand the mandates set forth by the card associations.
The Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) is a set of requirements designed to ensure that ALL companies that process, store or transmit credit card information maintain a secure environment. Essentially any merchant that has a Merchant ID (MID). The Payment Card Industry Security Standards Council (PCI SSC) was launched on September 7, 2006 to manage the ongoing evolution of the Payment Card Industry (PCI) security standards with focus on improving payment account security throughout the transaction process. The PCI DSS is administered and managed by the PCI SSC (www.pcisecuritystandards.org), an independent body that was created by the major payment card brands (Visa, MasterCard, American Express, Discover and JCB.). It is important to note, the payment brands and acquirers are responsible for enforcing compliance, not the PCI council.
PCI applies to ALL organizations or merchants, regardless of size or number of transactions, that accepts, transmits or stores any cardholder data. Said another way, if any customer of that organization ever pays the merchant directly using a credit card or debit card, then the PCI DSS requirements apply.
The Standard can be found on the PCI SSC’s Website:
All merchant that stores, processes or transmits cardholder data must be compliant now. However, as a Level 4 merchant, you will have to refer to your merchant bank for their specific validation requirements and deadlines. All deadline enforcement will come from your merchant bank. You may also find more information on Visa’s Website:
Any merchant — regardless of acceptance channel — processing over 6M Visa transactions per year.
Any merchant that Visa, at its sole discretion, determines should meet the Level 1 merchant requirements to minimize risk to the Visa system.
|Any merchant — regardless of acceptance channel — processing 1M to 6M Visa transactions per year.
|Any merchant processing 20,000 to 1M Visa e-commerce transactions per year.
|Any merchant processing fewer than 20,000 Visa e-commerce transactions per year, and all other merchants — regardless of acceptance channel — processing up to 1M Visa transactions per year.
|SAQ Validator Type
|Card-not-present (e-commerce or mail/telephone/order) merchants, all cardholder data functions outsourcd. This would never apply to face-to-face merchants.
|Imprint-only mechants with no cardholder data storage.
|Stand-alone dial-up terminal merchants, no cardholder data storage
|Merchants with payment application systems connected to the internet, no cardholder data storage
|All other merchants (not included in descriptions for SAQs A-C above) and all service providers defined by a payment brand as eligible to complete an SAQ
All merchants, small or large, need to be PCI compliant. The payment brands have collectively adopted PCI DSS as the
requirement for organizations that process, store or transmit payment cardholder data.
Yes. All business that store, process or transmit payment cardholder data must be PCI Compliant.
The payment brands may, at their discretion, fine an acquiring bank $5,000 to $100,000 per month for PCI compliance violations. The banks will most likely pass this fine on downstream till it eventually hits the merchant. Furthermore, the bank will also most likely either terminate your relationship or increase transaction fees. Penalties are not openly discussed nor widely publicized, but they can catastrophic to a small business.
It is important to be familiar with your merchant account agreement, which should outline your exposure.
Cardholder data is any personally identifiable data associated with a cardholder. This could be an account number, expiration date, name, address, social security number, etc. All personally identifiable information associated with the cardholder that is stored, processed, or transmitted is also considered cardholder data.
For the purposes of the PCI DSS, a merchant is defined as any entity that accepts payment cards bearing the logos of any of the five members of PCI SSC (American Express, Discover, JCB, MasterCard or Visa) as payment for goods and/or services. Note that a merchant that accepts payment cards as payment for goods and/or services can also be a service provider, if the services sold result in storing, processing, or transmitting cardholder data on behalf of other merchants or service providers. For example, an ISP is a merchant that accepts payment cards for monthly billing, but also is a service provider if it hosts merchants as customers.
Source: PCI SSC
Any company that stores, processes, or transmits cardholder data on behalf of another entity is defined to be a Service Provider by the Payment Card Industry (PCI) guidelines.
What constitutes a payment application as it relates to PCI Compliance? The term payment application has a very broad meaning in PCI. A payment application is anything that stores, processes, or transmits card data electronically. This means that anything from a Point of Sale System (e.g., Verifone swipe terminals, ALOHA terminals, etc.) in a restaurant to a Website e-commerce shopping cart (e.g., CreLoaded, osCommerce, etc) are all classified as payment applications. Therefore any piece of software that has been designed to touch credit card data is considered a payment application.
Payment Gateways connect a merchant to the bank or processor that is acting as the front-end connection to the Card Brands. They are called gateways because they take many inputs from a variety of different applications and route those inputs to the appropriate bank or processor. Gateways communicate with the bank or processor using dial-up connections, Web-based connections or privately held leased lines.
The point of sale (POS) environment refers to a transaction that takes place at a merchant location (i.e. retail store, restaurant, hotel, gas station, convenience store, etc.). An Internet protocol (IP)-based POS is when transactions are stored, processed, or transmitted on IP-based systems or systems communicating via TCP/IP.
If you electronically store cardholder data post authorization or if your processing systems have any internet connectivity, a quarterly scan by a PCI SSC Approved Scanning Vendor (ASV) is required.
A network security scan involves an automated tool that checks a merchant or service provider’s systems for vulnerabilities. The tool will conduct a non-intrusive scan to remotely review networks and Web applications based on the external-facing Internet protocol (IP) addresses provided by the merchant or service provider. The scan will identify vulnerabilities in operating systems, services, and devices that could be used by hackers to target the company’s private network. As provided by an Approved Scanning Vendors (ASV’s) such as ControlScan the tool will not require the merchant or service provider to install any software on their systems, and no denial-of-service attacks will be performed. Note, typically only merchants with external facing IP address are required to have passing quarterly scans to validate PCI compliance. This is usually merchants completing the SAQ C or D version.
Every 90 days/once per quarter you are required to submit a passing scan. Merchants and service providers should submit compliance documentation (successful scan reports) according to the timetable determined by their acquirer. Scans must be conducted by a PCI SSC Approved Scanning Vendor (ASV). ControlScan is a PCI Approved Scanning Vendor.
Yes, home users are arguably the most vulnerable simply because they are usually not well protected. Adopting a ‘path of least resistance’ model, intruders will often zero-in on home users – often exploiting their ‘always on’ broadband connections and typical home use programs such as chat, Internet games and P2P files sharing applications. ControlScan’s scanning service allows home users and network administrators alike to identify and fix any security vulnerabilities on their desktop or laptop computers.