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PCI Compliance in 2024: Making Sure Your eCommerce Website is PCI Compliant

PCI Compliance for eCommerce Websites

The look and feel of your eCommerce website are important, but the security of your online store is of critical concern. PCI compliance can help ensure your site is secure and safe for your customers to use.

Without the proper measures, you and your customers are vulnerable to attacks. And the threat is real — more than 22 billion records were exposed through data breaches in 2021. A data breach is obviously bad for security, but it’s also bad for your brand’s image and your bottom line.

In this article, we’ll discuss what it takes to create a PCI-compliant eCommerce website that is safe, secure and effective.

What Is PCI?

PCI is short for Payment Card Industry. “PCI compliant” means a transaction adheres to the payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS).

The PCI Security Standards Council manages PCI DSS, which applies to brick-and-mortar transactions as well as online purchases. American Express, Discover Financial Services, JCB International, Mastercard and Visa Inc. founded the council in 2006 to create and administer one PCI standard to replace the various rules created by the different companies.

What Is PCI Compliance?

PCI compliance requires adherence to the six control objectives, or goals, outlined in the PCI DSS:

  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. Monitor and test networks regularly
  6. Construct an information security policy

The six control objectives comprise 12 requirements, which are divided as follows:

Build and maintain a secure network and systems

1. Install and maintain a firewall to protect cardholder data

2. Implement strong system passwords and other security parameters instead of using vendor-supplied defaults

Protect cardholder data

3. Keep cardholder data safe

4. Use encryption to transmit cardholder data over public networks

Maintain a vulnerability management program

5. Use antivirus programs and update them regularly

6. Create and maintain secure applications and systems

Implement strong access control measures

7. Use a need-to-know approach to restrict cardholder data access

8. Provide a unique ID for each team member who has system access

9. Restrict physical access to cardholder data

Monitor and test networks regularly

10. Monitor and track access to cardholder data and network resources

11. Test security processes and systems regularly

Construct an information security policy

12. Create and maintain a policy that outlines the responsibilities of employees and contractors

Each requirement includes numerous sub-requirements that further flesh out the regulations.

PCI Compliance Is Not a One-and-Done Exercise

PCI compliance is a continuing process that requires consistent monitoring and continued scrutiny. If an issue is detected, you should resolve it quickly. Efforts like regularly changing passwords should also be part of your PCI compliance program. It’s equally important to keep software updated and deploy security patches as they become available.

The Cost of PCI Compliance

The cost of PCI compliance varies, depending on several factors, such as the size of your company. But the cost of non-compliance is high, especially if a breach occurs. In that case, your company will be subject to fines as well as consequences such as:

  • Reputation damage
  • Lost customer loyalty
  • Canceled customer accounts
  • Decreased sales
  • Insurance claims
  • Lawsuits

Achieving and maintaining PCI compliance doesn’t preclude a breach, but it is an important safeguard and demonstrates a good-faith effort on your company’s part.

The Benefits of PCI Compliance

Beyond safeguarding your customers’ data and protecting your company, being PCI compliant has other benefits. A secure eCommerce website increases customer trustwhich contributes to higher levels of customer confidence, a key component in gaining repeat business.

PCI compliance also improves your reputation with essential business partners and lays a foundation for compliance with other regulations. Besides contributing to your corporate security strategies, being PCI compliant means you’re playing an essential role in global security efforts.

How to Create a PCI-Compliant Website

Website security is just one of many features that an eCommerce site should have. When you’re planning an online store, you should take the following factors into account:

Proper eCommerce Development Ensures PCI Compliance

Designing and developing your eCommerce website appropriately are the first steps. This takes knowledge of what needs to be implemented and how. Working with an eCommerce development company specializing in eCommerce (like OuterBox) is always beneficial. The last thing you want is a web designer “learning” eCommerce development on your project.

SSL Encryption Protects Your eCommerce Transaction

An SSL certificate (secure sockets layer) will allow information to be encrypted as it’s transferred. Even if the information is intercepted, it will not be readable. This is important for any eCommerce website, and it is necessary for being PCI compliant.

Third-Party Processing Keeps Credit Card Information Safe

When a customer checks out, their credit card information should pass to your merchant account via your SSL. This way, the encrypted card number will not go into your database but to a third party that processes the credit card. You should not store the credit card number in your database. Storing the numbers can cause security issues — if anyone were to hack your website administration, they would then be able to steal credit card numbers.

When your eCommerce website is completed, you’ll want to test your online store to ensure it’s PCI compliant. If any issues are found, you should take care of them promptly. Your credit card processing company or merchant account services should run a PCI compliance test on your site before approving your account.

Trust Your eCommerce Website Needs to OuterBox

At OuterBox, we understand the role PCI compliance plays in developing a successful online store. You can rely on us to design and create an eCommerce website that meets your needs — and the needs of your customers.

If you would like to receive a free eCommerce website quote from OuterBox, please call us at 1-866-647-9218 or submit an online request for a website design estimate. We look forward to talking with you.

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