Processing card payments is a great responsibility for businesses, especially when it comes to the transmission and storage of confidential information. Even with the modern security measures, in the first half of 2021 alone, there were 1,767 publicly reported breaches that exposed 18.8 billion records.
But how not to become one of the victims of fraudulent activity and protect the clients’ payment data effectively? This practical guide has all the expert advice on storing credit card information that a merchant needs.
No matter on what scale your company operates, it is essential that it complies with the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard. According to it, every merchant dealing with credit and debit card processing must take measures to safeguard the consumers’ vulnerable information and prevent system breaches. If you want to learn more about these guidelines, check out our detailed article about PCI DSS.
Here, we will focus on what the failure to follow the secure data storage protocol may result in. The severe negative consequences include:
As you can see, non-compliance with the PCI requirements is enough for a business to lose its client base and go bankrupt. Read ahead for valuable insights on how to avoid violating the storing customer credit card information law and minimize data fraud risks.
Having a clear understanding of what payment information is allowed to be stored is of utmost importance for PCI DSS compliance. Certified PSPs and payment gateways have the legal right to keep such encrypted payment details as:
However, you cannot save sensitive authentication data even if it is encrypted, namely:
Now that you are aware of the types of cardholder details allowed for storage let’s take a look at the undesirable ways of collecting credit card information online.
Here are some examples of practices that undermine data storage security:
1. No PAN Encryption
Storing credit card information in database entries is often associated with high vulnerability towards breaches. Notably, according to PANscan 2021, 74% of merchants do not encrypt credit card numbers. Such businesses often use systems that are not capable of handling payment information securely, such as:
Not only is it a blatant violation of the PCI DSS standard, but also a critical oversight that can result in an impactful data breach.
2. Giving Employees Excessive Access
Approximately 75% of breaches happen due to privilege misuse. This typically occurs when employees receive more data access than their job functions require. Nevertheless, statistically, less than half of businesses have a password vault, and only 21% of companies implement multi-factor authentication for privileged access.
3. Paper Format
As outdated as it might seem, some merchants still list clients’ payment information on paper. No matter if the records are kept in organized files, it is one of the riskiest methods of storing credit card numbers vulnerable to both internal and external fraudulent activities.
It is strongly recommended that cardholder data storage is limited to what a merchant needs to meet legal, regulatory, or business needs. Below, you will find the most trusted PCI-compliant practices to collect credit card information online and store it safely:
However, on-site information storage is a complex solution that requires a lot of knowledge and effort from the merchant’s side. That is why business owners often choose to outsource data storage services.
One of the preferred ways to keep the payment details protected is by collaborating with a third party that specializes in it, like a PCI DSS-certified PSP or payment gateway. Such organizations will place vulnerable information on secure servers. This alleviates the burden of PCI compliance to a certain degree by taking care of the most challenging aspects of the regulations.
Knowing and applying what the storing credit card information law requires is already a huge step towards securing the card payment details. However, there are some more important factors to keep in mind:
Besides, remember to stay updated on the upcoming PCI DSS v4.0 and stay compliant with the new regulations. Following all the advice mentioned above will keep your clients’ card information at minimal risk of breach.