How To Make Sure You Earn PCI Compliance


Are you preparing for your next PCI audit and wondering what you should do to ensure you achieve compliance? Don’t worry; this guide will help you prepare for the audit.

Although PCI compliance is frowned upon by businesses, it adds value to your business in terms of data security and reputation.

Instead of trying to fight PCI compliance, try to understand what it entails and how it will affect your business.

What is PCI Compliance?

How To Make Sure You Earn PCI Compliance

This is a set of rules formulated by credit card companies such as American Express, Visa, JCB International. MasterCard and Discover Financial Services.

These rules require that any business or organization that accepts and processes credit or debit cards achieve compliance to minimize fraud, protect customer data, and mitigate data breaches.

How Do You Prepare For The PCI Audit?

1. Doesn’t assume that you’ll pass

Since you were compliant last year, does it mean that even this year, your business is compliant? Not necessarily.

You see, the requirements are updated every year to match the evolving cybercrime attacks. The requirements that were set in the previous year might have changed, which means that your business is no longer compliant.

Pay attention to the updates, and make the necessary changes. Also, review your PCI scope every time you make any changes to the cardholder environment.

2. Analyze your current compliance level

There are four compliance levels, and your business is classified under one of these levels. For example, if your business had previously achieved level 4 compliance, you can begin by reviewing whether your business meets the set guidelines.

In level 4, your business can handle less than 20,000 transactions per year. If your business exceeded these transactions in the previous year, you need to upgrade to the next level.

Check if the compliance standards for level 3 are similar to level 4 and if you meet the set guidelines for the next level.

Be sure to verify the amount of transaction volume for the past 52 weeks as it will determine your compliance level and requirements.

3. Consult a Qualified Security Assessor

You can assess your system for weak points, but it’s easier when you have a QSA to assist with the assessment.

A QSA will conduct complex assessments of your card technology environment to ensure that your current security measures satisfy the PCI requirements for your level.

The QSA will help identify any security risks in your systems and recommend ways to address these risks.

Since they understand PCI Compliance, the QSAs will help resolve any uncertainties regarding compliance and guide you through the requirements.

4. Understand your risks

What risks are you likely to face, and which systems will be affected? PCI Compliance requires entities to take a proactive approach when dealing with customer data.

You need to conduct a formal risk assessment to identify any vulnerabilities, risks, and threats to your cardholder data environment.

After you’ve identified the threats and vulnerabilities, you can come up with a risk management strategy to mitigate these risks.

Conduct risk assessments once every year, and each time you make any significant adjustments to your network. The increased frequency of these assessments helps identify risks that need prioritization, thus reducing the window of compromise.

Also, perform tests on your systems to identify gaps or holes that need fixing. The earlier you identify problems in your systems, the easier it is to fix them before the audit. The last thing you need is the system failing during the PCI audits.

5. Have a compliance goal

It’s easy to get caught up in the desire to pass the audit and achieve compliance as it’s the main goal.

However, instead of attaining compliance on the day when you need to pass the audit, you should ensure that you’re compliant year-round.

Although you’ll earn you’re PCI Compliance, don’t forget that a data breach can occur at any moment.

Your PCI Compliance won’t matter if your systems don’t meet the requirements when you need it the most.

6. Document everything

During the PCI audit, you’ll be required to provide sufficient data on your software configurations, polices, procedures, security measures, backup strategies, etc.

With this in mind, it’s time to compile all the documents that will provide the auditors with the data they need. Compile these documents and file them for easy access when you need them.


Think of PCI compliance as an ongoing project that doesn’t begin weeks before the audit and end after the audit.

Once you achieve compliance, don’t slow down on your security measures and policies. Always put the customer first by ensuring their data is protected. If you adhere to the requirements all year, you’ll have little to no trouble achieving compliance.

Preparation is everything, think of every day as an audit day, and you’ll forever be ready. Your customers will be happy knowing their data is safe, which will significantly improve your reputation.

Author: John Geller