PCI compliance is known for being a tedious, labor-intensive, and expensive procedure. But what if you could become compliant in days instead of months – and for a fraction of the price?
Data security is never something you should compromise. Non-compliance penalties, or even just brand damage after a data breach, can destroy your business. PCI compliance is not just a mandatory rule – it also facilitates business growth by boosting customer and partner trust in your brand.
But innovation in data security technology has made it possible to become compliant quicker than ever – without risky shortcuts.
PCI DSS requirements in a nutshell
PCI DSS requirements are complex. While there are only 12 general requirements, there are 78 base requirements, and over 400 test procedures once you read the fine print. When a company has to evaluate its processes and systems based on so many requirements, it’s easy to see how compliance can take months or even a year to achieve.
Overall, we can summarize some of the best data security compliance practices based on these requirements:
- Use PCI approved PIN entry devices at your points-of-sale.
- Use validated payment software at your POS or website shopping cart.
- Do not store any sensitive cardholder data on computers or on paper.
- Check PIN entry devices and PCs to make sure no one has installed rogue software or “skimming” devices.
- Use encryption to protect data and ensure firewalls are in place.
These basic tips are enough to get started, but they barely scratch the surface of PCI compliance.
Why in-house PCI compliance takes months
When a company uses in-house or DIY approaches to PCI compliance, it can take months or even a full year to achieve certification. Even if a business takes on vendors or service providers to shoulder part of the effort, the timeline and costs are only marginally affected.
The reason that this takes so long is that businesses who choose to go at it alone have to shoulder creating their own infrastructure from scratch. Or, if they already had some data security measures in place, they may discover they need to do major repairs or rip it out and rebuild.
Generally, creating a PCI compliant system involves hardware, software, and human processes for the following broad components:
- Building a network
- Set up data protection measures
- Vulnerability management
- Access control
- Monitor networks
- Maintaining security policy
- Verification from a PCI auditor
If your PCI auditor, known as a Qualified Security Officer, determines that your systems aren’t up to par, you’ll need to go back to the drawing board.
In other words, PCI compliance is a long process because when you are building things yourself, you need to take care to follow every PCI procedure. The average PCI Level 1 DIY solution takes about 9-12 months to complete $1.1 million in upfront costs, with yearly maintenance costs of $135k. Even for PCI Level 2, the process is expense and time consuming taking multiple months and up to $90,000 dollars (cite verify – verifi)
Speaking of maintenance, it’s important to note that whenever you make changes to your systems you’ll need to update your audit to maintain compliance. PCI compliance is not a one-time deal – it’s an ongoing process that you must keep in top-shape indefinitely.
How to turn months into days for compliance certification
The DIY data security route is based on the fact that your company collects, stores, and transmits sensitive data. But what if you never touched raw data? The Zero Data approach uses data aliasing to ensure that your systems and your employees are never exposed to a piece of sensitive information. But you can own it and run your business as if the real cardholder numbers were in front of you.
The Zero Data approach, when combined with a secure, 3rd party vault, enables a business to become PCI compliant in just days instead of months. This is because you don’t have to worry about building a PCI secure environment, setting up your own data protection measures, monitoring data access, or testing your systems for vulnerabilities. The liability for the entire process is shifted to your third party.
In other words, the only thing you need to do is outsource your data collection, transmission, and storage and you’ll inherit your provider’s PCI compliance.
VGS uses this approach so clients can get PCI Level 2 certified in less than 7 days compared to months doing this on your own. We take on the burden of PCI compliance while cutting costs by 50% or more compared to in-house approaches. This means you can spend more on your business instead of becoming an unofficial compliance expert.