Data Security

What is PCI DSS Compliance? 12 Requirements for Payment Card Industry

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Thy Dang

Content Executive @ Marketing Team|October 6, 2023

Ensuring data security is not only necessary but also crucial for success in financial competition. PCI DSS Compliance (Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard) can assist businesses in establishing credibility and a positive reputation with customers, becoming a prominent player in the industry.

What is PCI DSS Compliance?

PCI DSS, or Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard, is a set of regulations designed to enhance the security of transactions using payment cards such as credit cards, debit and cash cards while protecting cardholders’ personal information from misuse.

PCI DSS compliance is not a legal document or legal requirement. Instead, it is considered part of the contractual commitment that organizations that process and store payment card-related information must comply with. These organizations are tasked with implementing PCI DSS compliance to create and maintain a secure environment for their customers’ information.

PCI DSS compliance was developed in 2004 by the PCI Security Standards Council (PCI SSC). PCI SSC is a non-profit organization founded by the world’s five largest card payment companies: Visa, MasterCard, American Express, Discover and JCB.

12 Requirements of PCI DSS Compliance

Requirements for PCI DSS provide a set of leading security requirements and practices that organizations should follow to protect payment card information. These requirements are created to ensure that the handling of sensitive cardholder information is done securely and to prevent data breaches. PCI DSS compliance requirements include a total of 12 bullets, divided into 281 sub-requirements and serving 6 security goals. Below is a summary of the 12 key PCI DSS compliance requirements.

1. Install and maintain a firewall configuration to protect cardholder data

Firewalls act as a barrier between a company’s internal network and external networks, helping control incoming and outgoing traffic and reducing the risk of data breaches. Therefore, organizations need to establish and consistently maintain firewalls and router configurations to shield cardholder data from unauthorized access.

2. Do not use vendor-supplied defaults for system passwords and other security parameters

Cybersecurity attackers often target systems with default settings and passwords provided by vendors. To thwart these attacks, changing default passwords and security settings are necessary. By customizing these settings, organizations can eliminate a common vulnerability exploited by malicious actors.

3. Protect stored cardholder data

Protecting stored cardholder data is paramount as it enforces data security measures such as encryption, access controls, and vulnerability management to ensure the confidentiality and integrity of cardholder data. Encryption, for instance, renders data unreadable to unauthorized individuals, even if it’s accessed.

4. Encrypt transmission of cardholder data across open, public networks

To safeguard cardholder data during transmission over open, public networks like the internet, encryption is essential. This requirement mandates the use of strong encryption protocols, adding a layer of security that prevents attackers from intercepting and deciphering sensitive data while it’s in transit.

5. Use and regularly update anti-virus software or programs

Malware poses a significant threat to data security as it is designed to harm, infiltrate, or compromise computer systems, networks, and user devices. These malicious programs come in many forms and cybercriminals continually evolve their tactics to exploit vulnerabilities. Keeping anti-virus programs up-to-date ensures they can identify the latest threats, bolstering an organization’s defense against malware attacks.

6. Develop and maintain secure systems and applications

Secure coding practices and the regular maintenance of software and applications are vital for mitigating vulnerabilities. Following secure coding guidelines and promptly applying updates and patches can minimize security risks and reduce damages. Secure software development practices can prevent exploitation by cybercriminals.

7. Restrict access to cardholder data by business need-to-know

This requirement mandates that access to cardholder data should be limited based on job responsibilities. It ensures that only authorized personnel with a legitimate need can access sensitive information, reducing the risk of insider threats.

8. Assign a unique ID to each person with computer access

Unique user identifiers are instrumental in monitoring and tracking user activities. Unique IDs enhance accountability by making it easier to trace actions to specific users, aiding in security incident investigations.

9. Restrict physical access to cardholder data 

Implementing measures such as securing data centers, point-of-sale terminals, and storage areas through measures like access controls, surveillance, and visitor management helps protect cardholder data from theft and tampering. Strict access authorization, including biometric authentication and monitoring, ensures that only authorized personnel can enter cardholder data environments.

10. Track and monitor all access to network resources and cardholder data

Proactive monitoring is essential for detecting and responding to security incidents in real-time. This requirement entails logging and monitoring all access to network resources and cardholder data. By tracking user activities and events, organizations can identify anomalies and potential threats promptly, bolstering their cybersecurity posture.

11. Regularly test security systems and processes 

Cyber threats evolve continuously, making regular testing and vulnerability assessments imperative. Ongoing security testing to identify weaknesses and vulnerabilities is mandatory. Through periodic evaluations, organizations can proactively address security gaps and maintain robust protection against emerging threats.

12. Maintain a policy that addresses information security for all personnel 

An organization’s security is only as strong as its employees’ awareness and adherence to security policies. This requirement calls for the establishment of an information security policy and the education of all personnel. By promoting a culture of security and ensuring that employees understand their roles in safeguarding data, organizations can enhance overall security effectiveness.

By diligently adhering to these standards, companies can reduce the risk of data breaches, protect customer information, and demonstrate their commitment to data security, ultimately building trust with customers, partners, and stakeholders in the payment card industry.

Why should business apply PCI DSS compliance?

Dive deeper into the world of PCI DSS compliance with this downloadable PDF document. This comprehensive resource provides you with a real-world example – a case study featuring PayPal – that illustrates the practical implementation and importance of PCI DSS compliance.

Discover how industry leaders like PayPal prioritize data security, compliance with PCI DSS standards, and the protection of sensitive cardholder data. This document will help you gain a deeper understanding of PCI DSS and leverage the experiences of real-world organizations to strengthen your data security practices and build trust with your customers.

Download now: CyStack_PCI-DSS_EN


PCI DSS compliance isn’t merely a box to check; it’s a strategic move that can set your company apart from the competition. By building trust, reducing risk, fostering innovation, and gaining a competitive edge, compliance becomes a competitive advantage in itself. Just as the PayPal case study has been demonstrated above, embracing PCI DSS compliance can pave the way for long-term success in the dynamic business arena.

So, take note: PCI DSS compliance is more than a regulatory requirement. It’s your competitive advantage waiting to be unlocked.


[1] Nick Barney (2023), PCI DSS (Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard), from

[2] Satya Rane (2023), What are the 12 requirements of PCI DSS Compliance?, from

[3] PayPal (2022), PayPal Online Card Payment Services Agreement, from

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