While the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard can give businesses insight into the types of technologies and security protocols needed to handle consumer data, it can be difficult to enact such policies in real-world settings.
To help businesses overcome this, 3Delta Systems recently released a list of best practices that address the handling of consumer data. The report explained that enacting robust cyber security programs can be challenging, because hackers often spend extensive amounts of time planning attacks, finding the best paths to execute a data heist and identifying the most profitable targets with significant vulnerabilities. However, most businesses, especially small retail locations or similar stores that handle consumer data, cannot possibly expend the same time and energy on protecting that information, and must therefore find ways to streamline the process.
One of the key strategies for payment security success is to take a multi-layered offensive approach by assuming that the systems will fail at some point. Businesses need to look at their systems as if they were targets of the attack, according to the news source. Take the offensive, identify where flaws are and recognize how much risk is there if a breach were to take place. Identifying the full impact of a data breach is critical, as businesses can use that information to prepare for the inevitable security breach, the report said.
Logical thinking is also key. Payment card data loss does not only occur when hackers break into the network. It also happens when credit or debit card fraud takes place at the point of sale. As a result, the report advises businesses to focus on logical thinking when handling payments so they can identify when fraud is taking place and prevent it from happening. Employees should be trained in this area, as it will enable them to protect company and customer data in the event of a fraud attempt.
The concept of employee training needs to go beyond fraud. Every worker that has access to a PC within the company's network should be trained in proper security measures, the report said. It can be easy for a hacker to access a corporate system if an employee misguidedly downloads a virus by opening an attachment in a personal email or clicking the wrong link on a social media site.
Responding to industry standards is also critical for businesses. For most organizations handling payments in the United States, the PCI standard will provide the best practices needed to ensure data security. However, the PCI DSS is not a panacea, the report said, and businesses still need to operate intelligently to protect data, even if they are PCI compliant. While the standard is not a guarantee that security will never be an issue, it is good enough that the news source advises businesses apply its security advice to all aspects of their data protection plans, not just payment card data.
While the PCI standard can ease security concerns, it can be difficult to enact. One way to simplify this process is to outsource data center services to a PCI compliant hosting facility, where third-party servers will store and secure a business' payment card data. While this does not completely resolve all PCI DSS-related issues, it makes it easier for businesses to adopt secure policies, as the data is no longer stored on premise.