Tag Archives: PA-DSS

Are You PCI Compliant? – Council & 12 Guidelines … Plus Some Jokes


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Are you PCI compliant? Hm, I don’t know the answer to that. Nonetheless, I guess you want me to do all the talking … and I suppose that’s reasonable, given this setting.

I’ll discuss below what PCI compliance is and the industry board that controls its parameters. In so doing, we’ll get a basic sense of what’s involved and why it’s important for your business. This piece goes over similar ground to one I wrote previously for this site, but, like an old familiar song, you can never get enough PCI.

To achieve this bold and breathtaking effort to distill information and disseminate it across the Webiverse (what the kids call it), I’ll use two primary sources: a FindLaw article from the Reuters site and various pieces from the official PCI Council site. Speaking of “breathtaking,” be careful while reading this piece: it can cause feelings of awe and wonder that may be dangerous for pregnant and lactating women; individuals with heart disease and recovering from electroshock therapy; and hypersensitive imps, fairies, and demons.

I’ll first discuss the role of the official PCI Standards Council and then go over the twelve basic guidelines of which it’s comprised (though its details, as you can imagine, are extensive). Those guidelines can be accessed on page 8 of the Quick Reference Guide (though it requires contact information to view – and that means you, Jane Doe).

What’s the PCI Council?

First, to clear up any confusion at the outset, PCI does not stand for Politically Correct Imp. That’s important to remember because apparently the imp community is upset about humor related to Politically Correct Imps, especially the bitingly offensive comments made by Jay Leno at a public, clothing-optional Swedish bathhouse in 2009.

Here we go: The Payment Card Industry Security Standards Council (aka PCI SSC) is an open-access worldwide forum that was created in 2006. The Council creates and controls three sets of standards. They are as follows:

  1. Data Security Standard (DSS)
  2. Payment Application Data Security Standard (PA-DSS)
  3. PIN Transaction Security (PTS) Standard.

The organization is no longer in charge of the Beer Goggle Standard (BGS). That standard has been dissolved to allow those drinking beer to operate with full poetic and romantic license.

The standards run the gamut of the entire digital world and create an established and continually developing sense of how to keep debit and credit card information safe as it moves throughout the UniNet (the kids just changed the name) and is stored in various systems. What this means is that anyone who works with credit cards must meet these standards, with no exceptions (except for one lucky winner each year that can just go nuts with all our financial data).

The PCI organization performs three main functions:

  1. provides full information to any interested parties – including a publicly available documents library of all its standards and other guidelines
  2. develops and manages training classes to help those in the security field understand PCI compliance
  3. educates consumers on proper card security requirements and expectations.

The Council is unfortunately no longer handling waterpark safety code for scout troops and church youth groups, having realized that’s not its area of expertise. Here are its founding members (note the absence of clergy, scoutmasters, and waterpark administrators):

  • American Express
  • Discover
  • JCB
  • MasterCard
  • Visa.

12 Basic Guidelines of the PCI-DSS Standard

The twelve basic pieces of the PCI-DSS standard, the one that’s of main concern for typical merchants, are as follows (and again, notice the absence of anything related to waterparks, river tubing, or even swimming holes):

  1. Proper installation and maintenance of a firewall
  2. No usage of passwords provided as defaults by third-party business partners
  3. General security requirements for the storage of card information
  4. Encryption, typically via SSL certificates, of card details when passing through the Webiverse (yeah, the kids are fickle)
  5. Implementation of up-to-date and comprehensive anti-virus applications
  6. Securing of all software, devices, and other network components
  7. Disallowance of access to payment details without reasonable cause
  8. Allotment of individual login usernames for each user (internal and external)
  9. Cautious limitation of hard-copy access to payment details
  10. Consistent oversight of any points of access to payment information
  11. Determination that security parameters are operating properly via regularly scheduled tests
  12. Development of company-wide protocol for security, presented to all employees.

As a side note, you do want to make sure that your scout troop wears footwear when swimming shipside on the high seas, to avoid barnacle-inflicted flesh wounds.


As you can see, the PCI Standards established by the Council are thorough and far-reaching. Though these guidelines can be frustrating for companies, they are also crucial to maintain Internet-wide security across all sectors and throughout all regions (that means you, northeastern Siberia). Oh, by the way, we offer PCI Compliance analysis (checking all your systems and ensuring that you’re up to code). If you buy now, I’m allowed to clock out.

By Kent Roberts

PCI Compliant Hosting: 5 Reasons it Matters … Plus Some Jokes


Credit Cards ...item 2.. Big hack attack on Is...

PCI compliance is one of those things that are incredibly helpful and incredibly annoying at the same time. Similar to the Department of Transportation’s (DOT’s) Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) guidelines for semi-truck safety on the interstate, the Payment Card Industry Security Standards Council (PCI SSC) standards help ensure that credit cards are safe on the Internet and on the equipment of a company.

Now, of course, the flip side of the safety brought to those using the Internet or the interstate by DOT or PCI rules is that the stringency of the standards can sometimes be frustrating: this is the plus-and-minus nature of regulations. For instance, those organizations that tend to incorporate DOT compliance solutions or software into their business operations may have their own advantages and disadvantages which could be completely different from the ones that adhere to PCI rules.

Having said that, just to be clear, PCI is not federal regulations like those of the DOT. Instead, the credit card companies started the PCI standardization group to try to establish an across-the-board idea of what security for payments online is all about – to minimize the chances of theft of credit card numbers, purchasing data, etc. Online, PCI standards are similar to the standards set for Extended Validation (EV) SSL certificates by the Certification Authority/Browser Forum (CA/B Forum). As with PCI, EV standards were established by major industry players to protect not only their customers but themselves.

Let’s take a quick look below at what is entailed with PCI compliant web hosting. Additionally, since I’ve been throwing around all these acronyms, I’ll review a few of the other most important up-and-coming acronyms in the standards world. I’ll start with the first of those now:

Up & Coming Standards Acronyms: DHAH Bag Standard

DHAH is an exciting standard being developed by the international bag industry. DHAH stands for “Doesn’t Have Any Holes.” Charles Gibbons of the North American Free Bag Association (NAFBA) feels this standard will make it a lot easier for people to exchange bags without having to worry about functionality: “To be completely clear, a bag should have one hole in it – a big one at the top where you can put stuff in,” he explains. “Additional ones at the bottom are what DHAH standards are concerned with.”

What’s the PCI Council & 5 Reasons Compliance Matters

The Council was started in 2006. It is a worldwide forum and is open for membership application. Currently it oversees three sets of standards and requirements:

  • PCI-DSS (Data Security Standard)
  • PCI-PA-DSS (Payment Application Data Security Standard)
  • PCI-PTS (PIN Transaction Security Requirements).

PCI applies to all processing, handling, and storing of credit card and payment data. As the Council explains, “Our standards cover everything from the point of entry of card data into a system, to how the data is processed, through secure payment applications.”

Founding members include MasterCard, Visa, Discover, and American Express. It’s important to note that the Council itself does not enforce its standard. However, the individual credit card companies will sometimes require the companies meet the standards so that online fraud is less likely to occur.

Of course, online fraud is not desired by anyone conducting legitimate business on the Web. The basic gist on why compliance is important for you:

  1. Consumer Trust – PCI-DSS is an easy way to establish third-party vetting of your security. This increases trust, which in turn increases sales and repeat business.
  2. Payment Card Partnerships – Becoming compliant makes it easier to take payments with the major credit card companies. It’s validation that you share their same concerns.
  3. Building a Wall – Becoming compliant is an investment in the future. Building a more solid alliance following the same sets of standards makes it easier to adjust and counter the moves of online malware and criminals.
  4. Preparation for Standards & Efficiency – Going through the compliance process ties into preparation for HIPAA, SOX, and other standards. In other words, it’s further checks and balances, better integrating and streamlining your general security strategy.
  5. Bad Things Happen to Good Companies – Like any set of standards or regulations, the PCI parameters are meaningful. They really will make your company safer against threats. If sensitive payment data is stolen, here are some potential results: 1.) Fines from the government; 2.) Card account cancellation; 3.) Fines from the credit card industry; and, 4.) Civil litigation.

When you choose a hosting company that is compliant, you get the benefits of PCI compliance as a part of your hosting package (so that you don’t have to go out and do all the work and vetting yourself). Although you can take advantage of our PCI compliance and other accreditations at Superb Internet, you may want to go out and get the compliance in place yourself as well to further establish credibility with your clients and partners.

Up & Coming Standards Acronyms: MBATT Pet Standard

MBATT, or “Must Be Able To Talk,” is a standard that many pet stores are beginning to adopt. Laura Wright, owner of Animals Galore in Newton, Massachusetts, explains what MBATT is and why she became compliant: “Basically, it means that all of the pets in your store must talk. It’s hard to get a dog or fish or cat to speak in public, so I just have all tropical birds now, along with a few insurance salesman wearing tails.”


That should give you a basic sense of PCI compliance. Your basic consideration when you’re looking at a hosting company is to make sure that it is at least secure with your information and your customers’ information. PCI, then, gives us a standardized way to know if a company is doing its best to keep sensitive data secure. Here are our web hosting packages if you would like to take a look. Please comment below if you have any additional late-breaking acronyms you would like to share.

by Kent Roberts and Richard Norwood