Regulatory Compliance, Governance and Security

Mar 26 2009   1:34PM GMT

Compliance with PCI DSS | Expert Advice from a PCI QSA



Compliance with PCI DSS can be daunting and a challenge indeed. However, simply breaking down the PCI DSS requirements and looking at it in a thought manner will help alleviate your concerns. As a Payment Card Industry Qualified Security Assessor (PCI QSA), i’m often asked the who, what, when, where, and why of compliance with PCI DSS.

So, with that said, here is some important advice in truly understanding compliance.

1. You need to find out if you are identified as a merchant or a service providers in the eyes of PCI compliance. Contact a PCI QSA for advice on this issue if you are not sure of your answer.

2. Once you have accomplished this, you need to identify what “Level” of compliance is mandated for your organization. This can be done by calculating the total number of transactions your organization undertook or will undertake in a full year’s time. Take note, that for merchants, most organizations will fall into Levels 2,3, and 4, which can allow you to conduct a PCI DSS self-assessment (with oversight and guidance from a PCI-QSA is what i highly recommend). Level 1 merchants will have to undergo an actual on-site PCI DSS assessment by a QSA. As for service providers, most of you will also have to undergo an on-site PCI DSS assessment. Again, find your level based on your transaction volume.

3. If you can self-assess, then visit and obtain the self assessment questionnaires. There are five (5) of them, so read carefully as to which one is for you. If you have to have an actual on-site PCI DSS assessment done, then contact a firm who can conduct this for you.

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