How to Benefit from Payment Card Industry (PCI) Compliance

17-07-2017

In a world that is increasingly moving towards online and cashless transactions, credit card fraud is perhaps one of the biggest problems companies face, and one of the biggest fears customers reserve when it comes to payment procedures.

To counter this problem the best way we know how, the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) was introduced as a standard model, applicable to companies of all sizes who accept credit card payments.

If you are a call center working for a company that conducts businesses through credit card transactions, and stores, processes and transmits cardholder data, then you need to implement call center software that necessarily ensures that the data is to be hosted securely with a PCI compliant hosting provider.

The PCI Security Standards Council outlines a specific set of PCI compliance requirements to meet various security goals, including security of network, protection of cardholder data, access control measures and maintaining an information security policy.

Crucial steps in the compliance with PCI include maintenance of firewalls to protect data, encryption of sensitive data before transmission across public networks, regular testing and evaluation of the security of systems involved in dealing with credit card data, stringent access restrictions and logs of monitoring all user activity.

Being PCI compliant is a huge step towards ensuring that your customers’ data stays safe and seamless transmissions can take place.

The Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard establishes comprehensive guidelines for security of the most sensitive data. However, setup and initialization drive many merchants into believing it to be a service they can leave without.

Such an approach leaves both customer and company liable to face huge losses if instances of credit card fraud do take place, which becomes increasingly likely if there are no strong measures adopted to ensure security of service.

PCI compliance is extremely intimidating for organizations relying on the payment card industry for the majority of their transactions”, says Dr. Michael Mathews, CTO of CynergisTek. “PCI On Demand platform reduces the cost and complexity of security and compliance for organizations through the software-as-a-service model.”

Now that we have established what the PCI standards aim to achieve and why they are so important, let us take a look at what are the best practices , to help you benefit in your business from the PCI compliance.

These tips will help you understand how adhering to PCI compliances, instead of being an additional burden, is actually a tool that helps to generate a positive feedback and translates into better sales once used effectively.

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1.    Businesses that adhere to PCI compliance enjoy significant benefits over those who don’t, the foremost of which is the decreased risk of a security breach.

Online breaches are the biggest worry for businesses in the digital age, and following the 12 guidelines set out in PCI standards renders a company 50% more likely to withstand a breach, according to a Verizon study.

2.    Managers of the company can focus on the positive goals rather than spending a significant amount of time and effort ensuring that security is intact.

This allows for far greater productivity in the workplace, because one significant headache is taken out of the equation.

3.    Clients are more likely to feel comfortable sharing their sensitive data once they know that all possible security measures are taken.

Thus it is important for a company to be PCI compliant for clients to feel relaxed when they make purchases using credit card details.

4.    Companies are forever on the lookout for tools that can boost customer confidence. Even though the average customer may not be fully aware of what it means to be PCI compliant, awareness is growing every day, and a customer who does a little bit of research before letting their personal data out into public networks, will be much more likely to trust a PCI compliant company.

5.    Data breaches are not just an inconvenience for the customer involved, but cause hefty losses for the company who was in charge of protecting the data.

Fines for breaches could run up to as high as $500,000, which translates to over 3 crores INR. Companies that are PCI compliant significantly reduce the risk of running into such humongous fines.

6.    Setting up PCI compliance can be achieved without disruption in existing machinery for a company. There are experts who can outline the plans necessary, and their implementation can occur without affecting the business in any other form. Therefore, PCI compliance is relatively easy to obtain.

7.    A PCI compliant seal on the website is a known way to increase business. For digital retailers, consumers may feel hesitant to fill out an online form asking for all of their personal details.

The trusted seal improves the customer’s confidence in the company and leads to increase in revenue. A VeriSign study has found the click-through to increase by 18.5% due to the presence of that seal.

8.    PCI compliance is an important step to protecting the company’s reputation, since all the customers have to be informed immediately if a breach does take place.

Companies thrive on the positive impressions, and thus it is important for them to ensure that their clients know how secure their data is.

9.    PCI DSS compliance ensures that the system maintained by the company is periodically checked for vulnerabilities.

This is an excellent step for the company since they can get to know exactly where are their weakest points and rectify them immediately, so that at no point of this procedure does their business get hampered.

10.    PCI DSS requires quarterly reviews of firewall configurations and antivirus maintenance. This means that should a new threat be identified, the firewall is regularly updated and reconfigured to incorporate a counter to that new threat. This is how companies can stay up to date and be safe from all the latest designs that threats can take.

11.    A lot of the importance of PCI lies in the vulnerability that comes with not adhering to its guidelines. Companies that opt out of PCI compliance are likely to see data breaches ranging from minor discrepancies to genuine data loss and theft with the possibility being more than twice that of a PCI compliant company. This translates to a loss of revenue, client confidence and business.

12.    PCI ensures the security of sensitive data not only at the source where the user enters them, but throughout the transmission and receiving process through establishing a cardholder environment (CDE) through which the data can securely flow.

13.    The process of PCI compliance facilitates better internal security strategies as well. Taking the PCI DSS as a standard, internal policies can be framed with the same principles of encryption, access control, evaluating periods, firewall configurations, monitoring, etc.

14.    Managers at the company are notified of any external agent’s request to view protected data. This can help to evaluate either a legitimate third party who has been outsourced some work, or an illegal attempt to breach secure data. Subsequently, such efforts can be traced back to the owner and cyber security can be enforced.

15.    Workings of a company become more streamlined once PCI compliances are held up. Systematic approaches can be taken, modeled after the PCI DSS standards which help to revamp the workflow in the company to reflect the idea of putting security first. This increases efficiency in the workforce and leads eventually to better business decisions.

The Case Study

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The points highlighted above provide reasons as to why PCI compliance is important for all companies and tips on how it can be used to benefit business.

There are call center solutions available to pinpoint the manner in which these compliances can be applied for improvement in the business.

To elucidate this point further, let me talk about a real life situation which shows how PCI compliance can directly benefit businesses.

Let us take the example of a company that we will call Alphrex Solutions, to ensure that the real company remains anonymous.

Alphrex Solutions, in this case study, provides telecommunication services using call center software solutions for a well-known organization.

In this case study, we will take a look at the situation that the company was in, the challenges it faced and the solutions that its top leaders managed to incorporate to eradicate those challenges.

We will also devote some time to understanding the effects of the changes that were brought about and how the results showed a positive change.

The Problem Scenario

Alphrex Solutions is a company that has been in the business for many years. Over the years, it has handled thousands of credit card transactions from the clients.

However, there have been instances where data has been lost. Sometimes the data can later be retrieved but on a few occasions the data was breached by a third party.

Alphrex Solutions has in the past lost business because of such data breaches. The companies that have hired it over the years have seen huge losses on these specific occasions due to lack of security.

Even though such major instances have happened only thrice in almost ten years, Alphrex Solutions is committed to ensuring better security measures, and is on the lookout for the best call center software that can help them achieve their goal.

The Challenges

In the realm of security, the company faced the following challenges:

1.    Customers were losing trust in the business because news of data breaches became viral and clients were hesitant to enter their personal information.

2.    To improve the scenario, the managers were wasting a lot of their time in ensuring every step of transactions was well documented and monitored so that no such discrepancy can occur.

This was leading to stagnation in other areas where a managerial direction was required.

3.    The systems maintained by Alphrex Solutions were not getting updated to deal with the most potent latest threats. Therefore, even though significant attention was being paid to ensure the security of their systems, it  remained vulnerable to digital attacks using sophisticated technology that they were not equipped for.

The Solutions

The managers of the company realized that this problem was causing a dip in their revenue. They decided that drawing up solutions for it should take utmost importance and compiled a list of solutions that could counter the problems that they faced.

1.    The managers decided to opt for PCI compliance because it would give them comprehensive coverage against external security threats.

2.    Once the company became PCI compliant, the managers were sure to spread the word out that their data security systems were completely up to date.

They also put up the trusted seal on their website, which would help to reassure customers that their data would remain secure before they filled up the form necessary for the transactions.

3.    Regular evaluations of the firewall configurations and antivirus systems meant that the company could stay ahead of the game in terms of online dangers. They were equipped to deal with and successfully withstand the newest of tactics used by online hackers to obtain their data.

4.    They fashioned their internal security strategies along the lines of the PCI regulations, clearly denoting access restrictions, encryption necessities and monitoring. In this manner, the internal workings of the company also remained protected and proceeded in a streamlined manner.

The Results

For a company that was low in morale and losing business, rapid results were a necessity. Within the first 3 months of adhering to PCI compliance, the company saw customers regaining their trust as they saw the trusted seal of security measures.

No further security breaches were reported from the company’s data, so more and more clients joined in to make transactions without hesitation.

Within the next two years, the company saw a steady rise in business that peaked at 16% greater than their business before adhering to PCI regulations. Thus, the company experienced an increase in revenue after becoming PCI compliant.

We could see from this example how adhering to the PCI DSS standards are the right way to go for companies, whether big or small.

Data protection is a key element of sustaining business today, and the PCI guidelines offer the best and most effective way of doing just that.

Once the customer knows his data is safe, he is likely to make more transactions that only contribute to boosting your revenue.

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