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The PCI Data Security Standard represents a common set of industry tools and measurements to help ensure the safe handling of sensitive information. The PCI DSS has two main purposes: the protection of credit card information and the protection of customer identities.


From the world's largest corporations to small internet stores, compliance with the Payment Card Industry (PCI) Data Security Standard (DSS) is vital for all merchants who accept credit cards, online or offline.


Adherence to the PCI DSS should be seen as a very positive step, rather than an additional burden. In many cases, it will prepare your organization for compliance with other regulations.




“More than 80% of compromises identified since 2005 are Level 4 Merchants"
 (less than 20,000 credit card transactions a year)

The PCI Data Security Standard

(12 requirements in 6 areas of compliance)

Navigating the PCI DSS (pdf)

  Build and Maintain a Secure Network
    1: Install and maintain a firewall configuration to protect cardholder data
    2: Do not use vendor-supplied defaults for system passwords and other security parameters
  Protect Cardholder Data
    3: Protect stored cardholder data
    4: Encrypt transmission of cardholder data across open, public networks
  Maintain a Vulnerability Management Program
  5: Use and regularly update anti-virus software or programs
    6: Develop and maitain secure systems and applications
  Implement Strong Access Control Measures
    7: Restrict access to cardholder data by business need-to-know
    8: Assign unique ID to each person with computer access
    9: Restrict physical access to cardholder data
  Regular Monitor and Test Networks
    10: Track and monitor all access to network resources and cardholder data
    11: Regularly test security systems and processes
  Maintain an Information Security Policy
    12: Maintain a policy that addresses information security for all personnel

How many credit card transactions do you process in a year?

The PCI DSS categorizes merchants according to the number of card transactions processed. It is important to understand this as it identifies the steps that need to be taken each year to maintain adherence to the standard. PCI DSS specifies 4 levels:


Level 1 Merchant

Level 2 Merchant

Over 6 million transactions

150,000 to 6 million transactions



Level 3 Merchant

Level 4 Merchant

20,000 to 150,000 transactions

Less than 20,000 transactions

To help organizations achieve compliance a number of firms have been accredited by PCICo to be either a Qualified Security Assessor (QSA) or an Approved Scanning Vendor (ASV). The QSA is authorized to complete the onsite security audit required for Level 1 merchants; the ASV will complete the quarterly scans required by Level 1, 2 & 3 merchants. Lists of authorized suppliers are maintained on the PCI DSS website

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