What is a PCI Compliance Audit?

PCI compliance audit is a routine audit required of merchants that process credit card transactions to make sure that they are compliant with the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) set up by various credit card companies. Merchants may undergo regular PCI compliance audits, or an alleged violation can trigger a particular audit. The PCI Data Security Standards require that all Level 1 businesses undergo a yearly PCI audit conducted by a qualified auditor. If you’re a small business and you’re preparing for a PCI audit,  you have most likely suffered a data breach.

PCI compliance is important for all industries, from retail, to healthcare. If you handle payment card transactions, it benefits you to stay up to date with PCI regulatory guidelines.

Because of the sensitive nature of credit card data, you must find a qualified security assessor (QSA) – approved by the PCI Security Standards Council – to conduct your audit. The QSA will start by evaluating your security infrastructure including procedures, policies, networks, and systems. The QSA will then give you a risk assessment, which will provide the foundation for improving your data security.

The QSA will provide your staff with security awareness training, arming them with the knowledge and skills to meet all current PCI standards and regulations.

The QSA will review your risk assessment with you and prioritize the areas that need to be addressed.  This outline is necessary to improve your data security standards and may reduce the scope of the overall audit.

It will be your responsibility to continually monitor your security procedures to ensure that all PCI security standards are being met. Some of the commonly used methods and tools include PCI scanning, rogue Wi-Fi device scanning, executive compliance consulting, penetration testing, and event log monitoring and management.

Which Level Are You?

Recognizing that not all merchants or their service providers are created equal, the PSI established four compliance levels for merchants and two for ISPs. The higher the level, the more stringent the PCI requirements.

To comply with PCI DSS, Level 1 merchants and ISPs must attain the ROC, which involves an audit. Those in levels 2, 3, and 4 may self-assess by filling out the PCI DSS Self-Assessment Questionnaire (SAQ) that the security standards council provides. A quality GRC software or service can make either task much easier and cost-efficient.

Which level your organization belongs to depends on:

Level 1 merchants process 1 to 6 million transactions yearly; Level 1 service providers process 300,000 per year.

Contact Digital Squared to discuss your upcoming PCI compliance audit. Our expert team offers full-service consulting on PCI compliance related issues.