5 Benefits of PCI-DSS Compliance

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Are you thinking of accepting credit or debit cards as a form of payment?  Have you started accepting card-based transactions but are not PCI compliant?  You’ve heard that becoming PCI compliant is a lot of work, and it can be costly.  But, have you thought about what value PCI compliance can generate for your business? Here are various benefits of PCI compliance:


PCI-DSS refers to the security standards that all entities that store, process, or transmit cardholder data must comply with. Its mission is to enhance the security of payment account data through the development of standards and services. These standards set the technical and operational requirements for organizations accepting or processing payment transactions. It includes standards for software developers and manufacturers of applications and devices used in those transactions.

The PCI council was founded by major card issuers and networks such as VISA and MasterCard as a means to reduce fraud as a result of data breaches. When a card-related breach occurs, all parties are investigated. If it is determined that the breach occurred because a merchant was not PCI compliant, fines can be as high as $100,000 a month until compliance is achieved.

1. Prevents Data Breaches

With the evolution of cyber threats, data breaches are becoming increasingly common and frequent, whether its for large companies or small businesses. Protecting against a data breach is the primary mission for the PCI-DSS standard and its requirements help ensure that you’ve covered all the bases to prevent a major breach.

The requirements mandate an annual security assessment of card processing systems, requiring evidence that any technical vulnerabilities within these systems have been identified and fixed successfully. Along with a mandatory penetration test performed annually, these assessments must be performed following any major changes to the infrastructure, ensuring that no vulnerabilities have been introduced during its implementation.

With these measures, you can be certain that you’ve mitigated the risks of a data breach and that you are protected from any data-related incidents. This means that you will avoid potentially costly fines and the loss of business following a breach.

2. Builds Customer Trust

Even though consumers may not understand what PCI compliance is, they are starting to recognize that the presence of a PCI logo on a transaction page means their transactions are more secure. As large data breaches are getting more attention in the media, many consumers are now reluctant to provide their card payment to online merchants, even more so if said merchant has been the victim of a data breach in the past. According to a recent study, reputation losses and customer turnovers caused by a data breach cost US companies $4.13 millions on average per breach. Being PCI compliant gives you an edge over your competitors who are not, increases your sales potential and helps build trust amongst your customers to increase the likelihood of repeat business.

A 2019 Consumer and Data Protection Report demonstrates how people react to data breaches:

  • 35% would lose trust in an organization that suffered a breach.
  • 20% would seek compensation with an organization that experienced a breach.
  • 23% would stop doing business with an organization that suffered a breach.
  • 31% would tell others about organizations that suffered a breach.

The same survey found that most consumers do not trust companies to report data breaches. Clearly, there is a growing distrust among consumers when it comes to data protection, which is why being PCI compliant gives you a competitive edge, as it proves that you take the security of your data seriously.

3. Helps Comply with Other Standards

Being PCI compliant can be the first step towards other regulatory compliance. Because PCI requires penetration testing and vulnerability assessments for the identification and correction of technical vulnerabilities, a significant portion of the necessary security measures are in place for meeting the SOC and ISO 27001 requirements, amongst other standards.

When you become PCI compliant, the costs to meet the requirements of other standards are drastically reduced, as you will already have tested a majority of your security controls. This can be a great asset to appeal to potential investors and business partners.

4. Increases Business Growth

With cybercriminals looking at third-party networks as potentially weak access points, more organizations are scrutinizing the security of their vendors, suppliers and business partners, often imposing strong security requirements before they will work with an organization. When you are PCI compliant, the likelihood of developing business relationships increases tenfold, as complying with PCI is often one of the various requirements for securing business partnerships.

5. Gives Peace of Mind

Another benefit of PCI-DSS compliance is the security improvements it brings. Knowing that your company has conducted its due diligence in securing its informational assets can ease the minds of stakeholders and management, allowing them to focus on innovation and business development, as it can provide you with the peace of mind that your organization has taken the necessary steps to mitigate its cybersecurity risk.

Ensuring that cardholder and other sensitive data is secure builds trust not only with your customers but also with the organizations you do business with.  Your company may find it easier to acquire financing or finalize business relationships because of your adoption of security standards.

Most importantly, being compliant reduces the odds of suffering a data breach.  No one needs to remind you of the costs associated with a data breach.  Not only are there direct costs related to the breach itself, such as technical incident response costing $1.56 million on average per breach, but there are also secondary costs related to the loss of customers which can be harder to recover from.

A penetration test is a simulated hacking attempt that identifies opportunities for real hackers to break through your defences and perform various malicious acts. It generally leverages tools used by hackers and various professional methodologies to replicate the steps that modern hackers would take to intrude into your IT systems.

A pentest attempts to exploit your vulnerabilities to determine their potential impact, should they be used in a real hacking scenario. They provide a list of vulnerabilities with their respective level of severity, as well as technical recommendations to help your team apply corrective measures and focus on the most critical vulnerabilities.

These services allow your organization to answer the following questions, among several others:

  • Can a hacker gain access to any sensitive information?
  • Can a hacker hijack my technologies for any malicious acts?
  • Could a malware infection spread through the network?
  • Can an attacker escalate access to an administrative user?

Learn more about penetration testing →

There are many contexts in which a penetration test should be performed.

Here are some common use cases for a pentest:

  • As part of the development cycle of an application. (To test the security of a new feature/app)
  • To comply with security requirements. (3rd-parties, PCI, ISO27001, etc.)
  • To secure sensitive data from exfiltration.
  • To prevent infections by malware. (Ransomware, spyware, etc.)
  • To prevent disruptive cyberattacks. (Such as denial of service)
  • As part of a cybersecurity risk management strategy.

All businesses are advised to conduct a penetration test at least once a year, as well as after any significant upgrades or modifications to the company network. Given the rapid rate at which new exploits are discovered, we generally recommend that quarterly tests are performed.

Various steps are taken over the course of the project to prevent the potential impact of our tests on the stability of your technological environment and the continuity of your business operations.

For this reason, a communication plan will be put in place at the beginning of the project to prevent and mitigate any potential impact. A representative of your organization will be identified to act as the main point of contact to ensure rapid communication in the event of a situation directly impacting the conduct of your daily operations, or if any critical vulnerabilities are identified, for which  corrective measures need to be implemented quickly.

While we use a simple 4 levels risk rating approach (Critical, High, Moderate, Low), our risk assessment is actually based on the Common Vulnerability Scoring System (CVSS) standard. Two main criteria are considered when  assessing the risk level of each vulnerability:

  • Potential impact: The potential impact of an attack based on a vulnerability, combined with its  potential effect on the availability of the system, as well as the confidentiality and integrity of  the data.
  • Exploitability: The potential exploitability of a vulnerability; a vulnerability that is easier to  exploit increases the number of potential attackers and thus the likelihood of an attack.  Different factors are considered when evaluating the exploitability potential of a vulnerability  (e.g.: access vector, authentication, operational complexity, etc.)

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