Is your organization PCI compliant? Do your employees know how to keep proprietary and sensitive data safe? Find out how to improve employee training and company policies in order to support PCI compliance.

4 Tips for Training Employees on PCI Compliance

In order to successfully implement PCI compliance policies, all employees should be on the same page. Properly training the staff on security protocols promotes a security-conscious staff that works together to avoid internal risk and external risk in the form of fraud, breaches of data and losses for the company.

How important is this? Studies have shown almost 34% of businesses do not consider training employees the first line of defense, leaving them vulnerable and open to attacks. Sadly, if employees don’t know how to protect the company from cybercriminals, who will? Compromising cardholder data should be taken seriously, as it not only hurts the consumer, but the company can also be damaged in terms of integrity and reputation. Here are some ways to structure compliance training sessions:

1. Focus on the Internal First.

While there should be training programs in place that also address how to handle potential external threats, the risk management team should create training programs that focus on the internal security policies of the company. These training programs should mirror a list of best practices to ensure the company covers all the necessary bases.

2. Make Sure Employees Are on the Same Page.

Ensuring that every employee understands the risks, challenges, and vulnerabilities the company faces can make a big difference. They should be aware of the ramifications when protocols are not followed, and what could happen if company data is put at risk, unknowingly or knowingly.

3. Make the Training Mandatory.

Risks threaten all levels of the organization, including the management team. All employees should be trained on the data security protocols, especially those with direct access to a computer. When everyone receives the same training, it’s easier to pinpoint where the deficiencies are occurring.

4. Implement Ongoing Training Schedules.

Employees should go through regular sessions to ensure they understand the importance of cybersecurity. While only certain employees may have access to cardholder data, it is not uncommon for coworkers to share passwords, usernames and other sensitive employee-specific information in violation of protocols. Holding training sessions on a rotating basis will help keep them up to code and adhering to the company’s standards.

11 Tips for Building & Enforcing Policies on PCI Compliance

Before training schedules can commence, having the right PCI compliance policies and procedures in place is key. The security and risk management team must have comprehensive and detailed policies in place for employees to follow and refer back to when in doubt. These steps can help accomplish this:

1. Create Specific Policies.

Having PCI-specific policies in place will help protect the CDE (cardholder data environment). While this is considered to be a small part of the network, heightened security measures make the difference. A unique policy should be designed for this area, including general security components that should be used across the organization.

2. Set Internal and External Traffic Rules.

There should be protocols that address both inbound and outbound network activity. The IT and risk management team should work together to ensure the firewall protects the correct number of ports. Plus, any employees working externally who need access to the network should have their own set of security protocols in place to avoid breaches. As a company, both inbound and outbound traffic should be restricted to only the ports and services required for normal business operations.

3. Ensure the Network Is Secure.

Having protocols and policies in place doesn’t mean anything if the network is not secure. One of the most important rules is having a strong firewall that protects cardholder data. This means a firewall between any wireless networks and the space where the data is kept is key. Make sure to avoid the use of default passwords or default security parameters. Have mandatory protocols and multi-level authentication methods in place that require changing password on a rotating schedule.

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4. Map Data Flows.

Know where the company’s data lives and where it goes. Having a detailed map of systems, applications and network connections that interact with credit card data is a must.

5. Build Risk Mitigation Processes.

Organizations must have protocols in place that allow the security team to quickly respond to security breaches and control failures. These protocols should highlight areas on how to quickly return to normal operations and how to identify what went wrong. Once an attacker finds a failure in an organization’s security controls, they may launch other attacks. If a security breach of this nature occurs, increasing the frequency of how the system is monitored is necessary.

6. Design Remediation Workflows.

When a process fails, such as an ASV scan, a workflow trigger should result. Passing scans are required every 90 days, but having an automatic remediate and rescan in place will help stay on top of these issues.

7. Maintain Strong Access Control Components.

The IT team should be able to identify whether the company’s access policies are too lenient and make changes where they’re needed. Implementing a “zero trust” access model helps organizations comply with PCI mandates and properly deal with external users accessing the system from an unmanaged endpoint.

8. Create and Implement an Incident Response Plan.

The key stakeholders of the organization should create and implement an incident response plan that identifies and addresses the possible risks the company may encounter. Having specific guidelines to follow in the event of a risk keeps the team proactive, instead of reactive.

9. Use Access Controls to Mitigate Risk.

PCI DSS has specific access control requirements that guide how people with access to company resources are managed. Restricting access rights to only those that are needed to complete a user’s job function falls in line with compliance protocols. These access control policies must be documented, including specifics on what is granted to users.

10. Utilize Data Tokenization.

Data tokenization is used to keep sensitive consumer credit card information in a secure, web-based portal instead of on local servers. This protects consumer data while reducing the liability of the company if a data breach occurs.

11. Use the DSE (Data Security Essentials) Questionnaire.

As a merchant, completing the DSE Questionnaire renders your company PCI compliant. If your organization qualifies to complete the DSE, the company may still be obligated to pass ASV scans.

Learn about Changes on the Horizon for PCI DSS and PA DSS.

Professional Assistance with PCI Compliance

Knowing how to remain PCI compliant in all areas of the organization helps in creating a strong infrastructure from the inside out. With the right policies and training methodology in place, companies have a greater chance of staying in compliance and avoiding data breaches. Having a technical partner who can help with auditing and putting the right compliance protocols in place saves time and money.

For more information on how the team at IS Partners can assist, contact an associate at 215-675-1400 for a quote today.

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