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Compliance with the PCI DSS

PCI compliance is required by all entities that store, process or transmit cardholder information.  In order to be considered “PCI compliant”, an entity must comply with all of the requirements in the PCI DSS (either directly or through appropriate compensating controls).

Compliance validation requirements vary depending on the payment brand program and the merchant or service provider level (e.g., Level 1 through 4). An entity may be able to assess compliance with the PCI DSS through a singular review; however, the entity would still be required to follow each payment brand’s respective compliance validation and reporting requirements. Noncompliance can result in fines levied by credit card companies against merchants, processors and acquiring banks.

To whom does the PCI DSS apply?

The PCI DSS requirements apply to all merchants and other companies that store, process or transmit credit card information.

Responsibility for compliance

  • The PCI SSC maintains and administers the PCI DSS but does not enforce compliance.
  • Each credit card brand (credit card company) is responsible for enforcing their PCI DSS compliance policy. A credit card brand may enforce compliance to their security policy (compliance to PCI DSS) on merchants, their banks (acquirers), and processors.

Different compliance validation for different classes of merchants

  • Each credit card brand has different requirements for PCI DSS compliance validation, primarily based on merchant’s credit card transaction volume.
  • American Express, Discover, MasterCard, and Visa define merchant “Levels”.
  • Different compliance requirements apply to different Merchant Levels.

PCI DSS Requirements

The PCI-DSS (Payment Card Industry - Data Security Standard) is an international standard that was developed by the credit card companies American Express, Discovery, JCB, MasterCard and Visa in order to protect their clients' credit accounts from leakage outside organizations and companies holding these accounts.

The standard was written by the PCI-SSC (Payment Card Industry - Security Standards Council) and includes 12 information security controls, divided into 12 requirements and dozens of sub requirements, designed to prevent exposure of credit card information in any form.

In addition to the PCI-DSS, the Security Council also issued the Payment Application (PA) DSS standard defining the requirements of credit card software companies including the PCI PIN Entry Device (PED) and PIN Transaction Security (PTS) for credit card hardware manufacturers. This standard defines the requirements for software manufacturers, software developers and integration software that have interfaces with information processing and the transfer of credit card information. Over 200 specific sub-requirements are included in the 12 main PCI DSS requirements.

Compliance with the PCI DSS

PCI compliance is required by all entities that store, process or transmit cardholder information.  In order to be considered “PCI compliant”, an entity must comply with all of the requirements in the PCI DSS (either directly or through appropriate compensating controls).

Compliance validation requirements vary depending on the payment brand program and the merchant or service provider level (e.g., Level 1 through 4). An entity may be able to assess compliance with the PCI DSS through a singular review; however, the entity would still be required to follow each payment brand’s respective compliance validation and reporting requirements. Noncompliance can result in fines levied by credit card companies against merchants, processors and acquiring banks.

To whom does the PCI DSS apply?

The PCI DSS requirements apply to all merchants and other companies that store, process or transmit credit card information.

Responsibility for compliance

  • The PCI SSC maintains and administers the PCI DSS but does not enforce compliance.
  • Each credit card brand (credit card company) is responsible for enforcing their PCI DSS compliance policy. A credit card brand may enforce compliance to their security policy (compliance to PCI DSS) on merchants, their banks (acquirers), and processors.

Different compliance validation for different classes of merchants

  • Each credit card brand has different requirements for PCI DSS compliance validation, primarily based on merchant’s credit card transaction volume.
  • American Express, Discover, MasterCard, and Visa define merchant “Levels”.
  • Different compliance requirements apply to different Merchant Levels.
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