Cybercriminals are always on the prowl for customers’ financial data in any organization. Pandemic-driven increase in cybercrimes means that organizations that process credit card payments must focus more on compliance with the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS). However, many organizations consider the PCI DSS certification expensive and are seeking ways to minimize cost.
PCI compliance, which is not a one-time occurrence, can be a stressful and time-consuming annual event. It’s therefore essential to learn how to achieve PCI compliance in a cost-effective fashion by using a PCI compliance cost calculator.
Let’s review some costs that are associated with PCI compliance fees and how to minimize them.
Cost of PCI DSS Compliance
Verizon’s 2020 Data Breach Investigations Report reveals that 43 percent of cyber attacks target small businesses. Even if you are just a small business, you are as much of a target as a big corporation. It’s essential to work towards being PCI compliant and cutting down on PCI certification costs while at it.
While the intention behind the PCI DSS is commendable—to protect cardholder data against theft and fraud—compliance comes with a huge price tag. According to a 2011 study by Ponemon Institute, the average total cost of compliance each year is more than $3.5 million dollars. However, the cost of noncompliance is considerably higher– a whopping $9.4 million dollars!
Factors That Affect PCI DSS Certification Cost
There are no fixed prices for PCI DSS certification or PCI compliance, as the costs vary from one business to another. However, several significant factors affect PCI compliance costs.
Cardholder Data Environment (CDE), your organization’s technical, physical environment, software, and hardware are useful variables for PCI compliance cost calculator to determine the cost of PCI.
1. Cardholder Data Environment (CDE)
It’s necessary to state that the Cardholder Data Environment (CDE) is the primary evaluation area when putting PCI DSS into consideration. The CDE signifies the systems and controls related to the processing, storage, and transmission of credit card data. The CDE includes the numbers of data centers, retail stores, call centers, and other physical locations that store, process, and transmit Cardholder Data (CHD).
You can reduce the costs and complexities of PCI compliance by cutting down on the scope of your CDE.
2. Technical environment
Your organization’s technical environment comprises the areas of your network that interact with your CDE. These areas are significantly crucial because they represent the actual hardware systems that are subject to PCI compliance. In your technical environment, factors to consider include:
- Number of servers
- Network devices
- CHD-related applications like e-commerce applications
- Any system components that interact with CHD
3. Number of transactions processed
The total number of transactions processed each year will determine the level of compliance required for your organization. For example, companies that process fewer than 6 million transactions a year can fill out a Self Assessment Questionnaire to verify they’re following PCI DSS. On the other hand, larger companies incur higher PCI compliance costs because they need to hire a Qualified Security Assessor to attest to their compliance.
4. Number of employees
Employees can also have an impact on compliance costs. The total number of employees who handle card processing or payment data is a significant factor in PCI compliance fees. Every employee in your organization who has access to payment card information can increase the total costs of training or necessitate additional IT security protections.
IBM’s Cyber Security Intelligence Index Report shows that human errors cause 95% of cybersecurity breaches, emphasizing the importance of employee training. Cybercriminals and hackers will infiltrate your company through your weakest link, especially untrained employees. Organizations with a large volume of employees may also require more elaborate policies and procedures.
5. In-house PCI knowledge
Your knowledge about PCI shouldn’t start and end with your IT team. Every arm of your organization, especially employees that interact with credit cards, should be trained on PCI compliance. If your organization’s IT team includes PCI expertise, you can lower PCI compliance fees.
In addition, internal talent can help ensure your company is prepared for an audit. Organizations with little internal IT talent or PCI knowledge may need PCI consultants drafted in to mitigate emerging risk. However, remember that in-house PCI expertise is not a substitute for unbiased input by a certified third-party professional.
Tips for reducing PCI compliance costs
Below are six tested and trusted ways of reducing PCI compliance costs.
1. Limit scope of the CDE
One recognized way to mitigate PCI compliance costs is to lessen your CDE size. Apart from the fact that it’s compulsory for your CDE to pass an audit to achieve PCI compliance successfully, it must also be proactively protected from the threat of cybercriminals. The wider the scope of your CDE, the costlier it becomes to remain PCI compliant.
Another excellent way to reduce CDE is via cloud-based tokenization. Cloud-based tokenization involves replacing sensitive credit card data with a unique identifier or financially non-sensitive token that’s mathematically impossible to reverse. With such tokenization, tokens or credit cards cannot be used fraudulently in the open market if your company ever falls victim to a data breach.
In most cases, tokens can still use the last four digits of a credit card number to correctly match cards with their owners, while an algorithm determines the remaining digits. Following this, if customers process payment only through tokens, your system will be removed from the PCI scope, which will then make costs fall dramatically.
3. Install updates
Outdated software quickly becomes vulnerable to attack. If you leave it a whole year between updates, updating your software systems with the latest version will be a massive task for your security team. It might even require them to work overtime or bring in additional staff to cover the extra workload, which is an extra cost for the organization.
In contrast, if you install updates and patches for your software regularly throughout the year, the extra fee would be knocked out, and the regular update becomes a part of your security team’s normal, manageable workload.
4. Limit your cardholder data storage
PCI Security Standards Council has few ideas on the dos and don’ts of PCI Data storage. According to Requirement 3 of PCI DSS, “merchants protect stored cardholder data.” You can reduce PCI compliance costs by either storing as little cardholder data as possible or not storing such data at all. By opting not to preserve data at all, you automatically get more robust protection for your network because you have eliminated a key target for cybercriminals.
5. Invest in security training for employees
Organizations significantly reduce security-related risk when they invest in cybersecurity training and awareness for their employees. Security training is so crucial for maintaining PCI compliance in your company. Several cybersecurity professionals agree that humans and technology need to work together to detect and respond to threats.
Therefore, training should not be limited to the IT department, as training staff on general security awareness will help them understand the importance of PCI compliance and data protection. Many threats that eventually become big cybersecurity problems can be detected and remediated early on in the development process.
6. Reduce PCI compliance costs with an end-to-end solution
Companies that want to reduce their PCI compliance burden can completely outsource all their PCI data protection. You can work with a qualified security partner that is skilled in PCI data collection, transfer, and storage. Using an outsourced partner can shift the liability of data breaches away from your organization, thereby reducing risks related to working with critical data.
Although PCI DSS compliance isn’t simple, the cost of compliance is always lower than the cost of noncompliance. To avoid costly financial penalties, organizations must view PCI as an ongoing effort.
Budgeting for PCI compliance fees and seeking expert guidance from a cybersecurity and compliance provider like RSI Security to meet requirements, your organization can mitigate risks and maintain trust between you and your customers.
RSI Security will help you get through the compliance process efficiently and thoroughly, leaving you with the assurance that your critical data assets are secure.
With an understanding of PCI compliance and how to reduce costs, it’s imperative to start your PCI journey as soon as possible. To know your current compliance report, contact RSI Security today!