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  • Writer's pictureRizwan Khan

Tips for CEOs on PCI (Payment Card Industry) compliance.

Updated: Nov 24, 2022

In the era of e-commerce in which we all live now, every CEO should understand PCI compliance to ensure their organization is protected.

“PCI DSS” is shorthand for the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard. PCI compliance is for any business that processes, stores, or transmits credit card data and other sensitive information, regardless of size. These companies must validate their compliance annually or quarterly by engaging a certified assessor or company qualified to determine that they’re handling transactions appropriately. Different businesses will adhere to different standards depending on the number of credit card transactions they process. “Level one” is for the highest volume, and “level four” is for the lowest volume. Companies that outsource their payment processing to a third-party play by a separate set of rules than those accepting cards directly.

Any organization that processes over six million transactions annually is designated level one. Those that process between one and six million per year are level two. If a business processes 20,000 to one million transactions in a year, that’s level three. Anything less than that is level four.

Any organization can become PCI compliant by completing a self-assessment questionnaire. These are available on the PCI Security Standards Council website. Different questionnaires will apply to other businesses, but each is a series of yes-or-no questions designed to determine how closely your business meets PCI Data Security Standard requirements.

There are penalties for failing to meet these standards. These can include fines, increased fees, sanctions from banks, and eviction from credit card payment processing infrastructure. In cases of significant negligence, businesses that aren’t PCI-compliant may be subject to lawsuits and prosecution.

The organization must build and maintain a secure network that protects cardholder information. An internal team or a trusted tech contractor can do this. Essential PCI compliance is using systems that prevent unauthorized access from untrusted actors. Once the network is secure, implement a robust password program with the employees, change any passwords provided by the contractor, and continue changing them regularly.

Once the self-assessment questionnaire is completed, a formal attestation of compliance and filing paperwork with credit card companies needs to happen. An attestation of compliance (AOC) is a form companies use to confirm the successful results of their PCI DSS assessment, as documented in a self-assessment questionnaire or compliance report. Make sure to have a qualified security assessor review the work so that they can confirm the findings.

The PCI compliance process may be technically complex, but it helps future-proof the business, guard customer data, and protect the reputation of the organization at the same time. A CEO should work with their CTO or tech leadership to ensure the organization is always PCI compliant.

The ideas mentioned above are meant as information to ease your organizational processes. However, if you would like a more detailed overview, do not hesitate to reach out to me at

I have years of experience building Technology and providing Technology Due Diligence as a CTO, and I am available for fruitful discussions.

#CEO #CTO #technology #technology #CIO #education #Interim #technologyleadership #educationtechnology #leadership

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