Security has become the major topic of discussion today with regard to credit cards. Just the word, “security”, calls to mind the hundreds of major, and even the minor, breaches that have occurred within the last 5 years and resulted in the theft of millions—maybe even billions—of card numbers or other Personally Identifiable Information (PII).
If that buzz word has been bouncing around in your head lately, then the concept of Payment Card Industry (PCI) Data Security Standard (DSS) compliance should also have popped up. These standards, which are put forth by the PCI Security Standards Council, are designed to help businesses protect consumers from theft or data breaches by setting forth rules and regulations for handling credit card and PII information safely.
So why should PCI be important to your business? The following reasons are just a few:
Consider your customers. As business-owner, you understand better than most the reciprocal nature of the relationship between business and customer. The only way a business can be truly successful is through commitment to serving and caring for customers well. Consistently offering high quality products and services are part of the ways any business maintains a constant stream of revenue. Do you really think your customers would be interested in returning if they’re credit card information or PII details were stolen because they visited your business? Maybe, but many would seek out competitors who have invested in better security—the kind described in the PCI Data Security Standards (PCI DSS).
Failing to comply can be costly. The PCI DSS are not just arbitrary rules put forth as “suggestions”. Essentially they’re guidelines created by the major credit card companies for establishing the best possible strategies for preventing electronic theft. Failure to comply with these standards basically means that you’ve ignored the standards for basic security set forth by experts in their fields. It also means your data will be ineffectively protected and, essentially, at risk for a breach. The fact that your business is not PCI compliant and the potential loss of money to customers and financial institutions can not only affect your bottom line due to fines, lawsuits, insurance claims, etc., but it will also damage your business’s reputation. As stated above, customer confidence is huge for any business. If you fail to protect your customers by every means reasonably available—and the PCI standards are both smart and reasonable—then how can your customers have faith in your ability to protect their personal information?
Maintaining compliance also means keeping up with the times. Another major concept to consider is the fact that technology is advancing all the time. PCI compliance is the bare minimum that any business should have in place to protect its customers. Falling behind on compliance standards means that as technology advances you’ll be two steps behind the required level, which is that much farther to travel for you to catch up. You have to stay current when it comes to technology if you hope to protect your customers. As a business owner or manager, it’s a huge part of your job to keep abreast of changes as they occur—especially if you hope to maintain a successful ecommerce area in your business. Think of hackers as a new nation that has discovered iron while you are still just whittling away with sticks to make your weapons. You’re outmatched and outgunned if they decide they want to take you on. Don’t let your customers suffer because you weren’t paying attention or felt disinclined to meet up with the standard security requirements.
While there are a lot of ways to cut costs today, mostly through more efficient processes and better training, don’t try to cut costs where your technological security is concerned. It can be expensive to maintain high security standards—and some threats may require even better protection than PCI standards require—but the cost of a lawsuit or loss of business would be even more costly. Technological security should be top priority for any business today if you hope to avoid a slot on a hacker’s hit list.
About the Author – Ashley Choate is a native of Jacksonville, FL where she lives with her son, dog, and three cats. She graduated Magna Cum Laude from Jacksonville University with a BA in English and holds an MAED in Adult Education and Training. She lives for reading and writing, learning and teaching, and figuring out the day-to-day traumas and joys of mommyhood. .
Top Photo Courtesy of David Goehrig @ Flickr CC