What is PCI DSS Compliance?

PCI compliance refers to following laws and procedures designed to safeguard debit, credit or card transactions while avoiding the abuse of customers' data. PCI DSS compliance is required for all card brands. PCI DSS protects Consumers at a minimum level, lowering fraudulent and data losses across the whole payment chain. 

12 Requirements for PCI DSS Compliance 

These are the 12 requirements for complying with PCI DSS. They are listed here:

  • Use and Maintain Firewalls
  • Proper Password Protection
  • Protect Cardholder Data
  • Encrypt Transmitted Data
  • Use and Maintain Anti-Virus
  • Properly Updated Software
  • Restrict Data Access
  • Unique IDs for Access
  • Restrict Physical Access
  • Create and Maintain Access Logs
  • Scan and Test for Vulnerabilities
  • Document Policies

Now, let's discuss these requirements in detail.

1. Use and maintain firewalls

Installing and maintaining a firewall setup is necessary to safeguard the network. This includes using strong, unique passwords rather than the providers. Reviewing configuration settings every two years and limiting all unauthorized traffic are recommended.

Learn More: The Best Firewall Software For Windows, Mac and Linux

2. Proper password protection

The first step is to change all the supplied passwords to secure ones. Before the new item communicates in any manner with the existing system, these default passwords must be updated. System configuration management must also be implemented.

3. Protect cardholder data

To avoid unauthorized use, businesses that take credit cards must safeguard cardholder data. Cardholder information should only ever be kept on file if it's necessary for legal reasons. This criterion emphasizes protecting stored data in the case that storage is essential.

4. Encrypt transmitted data

When sensitive data is transferred across open networks, including the Internet and wireless technologies, encryption must be utilized. The possibility that culprits can obtain this material is reduced when it is encrypted before transmission and decrypted after receiving it. This necessitates the use of strong encryption and security mechanisms.

5. Use and maintain Anti-Virus

PCI DSS mandates an alert and lasting approach to identify faults in the payment card system. To safeguard any systems relating to cardholder data, PCI compliance mandates that businesses employ powerful, consistently maintained anti-virus software.

6. Properly updated software

Organizations must reduce the chance of violations by maintaining secure software to mitigate risks. Enterprises must update and apply all pertinent fixes for crucial systems to comply with PCI DSS standards. They must also employ a system for locating problems with security, classifying them according to priority, and then deciding how to fix them.

7. Restrict Data access

Having the ability to approve or reject permission to access cardholder data is necessary for businesses to implement effective access control mechanisms. The intention is only to provide authorized access. Data access is granted only to those who require it and for a limited time.

8. Unique IDs for Access

All authorized users must have a special identification number allocated to them to have effective control mechanisms. This guarantees that any access to cardholder data can be traced back to an authorized user or is instantly identified as unauthorized access.

9. Restrict Physical Access

Devices that store cardholder data or printed copies should only be accessible to authorized people. The protection calls for on-site access management that restricts motion inside a construction but also tracks and records it. All material must be physically protected, and backups must be kept at a different place from the central storage place.

10. Create and Maintain Access logs

By forcing businesses to test and supervise their networks regularly, PCI DSS tries to stop the exploits. However, for these systems to be successful, certain prerequisites must be met, such as having the ability to route every network communication to a particular user.

11. Scan and Test for Vulnerabilities

Because IT systems change often, component and programme testing must stay upward. To ensure security measures are maintained regardless of these external changes, all systems and procedures must be checked often. Conduct quarterly checks for vulnerabilities and perform a penetration test.

12. Document Policies

PCI compliance can only be attained with security policies. It is vital not only to develop and maintain the policy but also to publicize and spread it. Additionally, confirming that all security protocols and usage guidelines adhere to the main data safety policy is crucial.

A Step-by-step Guide to PCI DSS v3.2.1 Compliance 

1. Know your requirements

Knowing which criteria apply to your firm is the first step toward obtaining PCI compliance. There are four distinct PCI compliance levels based on how many transactions involving cards your company handles over a year.

  • Level 1 organizations handle over 6 million transactions every year.
  • Level 2 businesses handle approximately 1 and 6 million transactions every year.
  • Level 3 refers to firms conducting from 20,000 to 1 million electronic transactions annually.
  • Level 4 firms execute less than 20,000 transactions on the Internet every year.

2. Map your data flows

Knowing where and how sensitive credit card information resides and travels is necessary before you can safeguard it. To effectively manage credit card data throughout your company, you must establish a detailed map of all the systems and connections to the network. 

3. Check security controls and protocols

Work with the information technology and safety departments to verify that the proper security configurations and processes are in place after you've identified all probable interfaces for credit card data throughout your firm. 

4. Monitor and maintain 

 It is an ongoing effort to guarantee that your company stays compliant even when information flows, and customer interfaces change. Cross-departmental assistance and collaboration are frequently needed to manage PCI compliance over the year. It would be worthwhile to establish an internal team with specific responsibility for maintaining compliance if it is present.

PCI DSS Versions 

Various versions of PCI DSS have been introduced over the years.

  • Version 1.0: The 1st version of PCI DSS was introduced in 2004. It was a basic and understandable set of security standards. 
  • Version 1.2: This PCI DSS version was introduced in 2008 to address the new risks and threats.
  • Version 1.2.1: This version was introduced in 2009 to bring consistency to the standards. 
  • Version 3.0: This version of PCI DSS was introduced in 2013 to address the problem of the need for more awareness. 
  • Version 3.2: This version was released in 2016 in response to increased threats.

Benefits of PCI Compliance 

1. Increased Security

Proper security measures are crucial in today's environment of online commercial transactions and increasingly widespread access to personal data across many devices. Consider putting access control policy methods and maintaining PCI compliance into place to safeguard your company's and customers' data. PCI DSS guarantees that everyone's information is secure no matter where it is stored.

2. Serves as a foundation for various compliance frameworks

PCI DSS compliance offers firms a foundational level of data security, assisting in protecting personal client information. 

Setbacks of Being Non-compliant 

1. Inadequate segmentation and coverage

This is one of the most difficult hurdles in becoming PCI DSS compliant. Inappropriate classification and extent of cardholder data might have negative effects. 

2. Lack of Competence

Many businesses find that the pressure to comply with PCI DSS does not directly relate to their business activities; instead, it comes from industry peers or third-party organizations. Due to this situation, it is unclear what is necessary to meet the standards' criteria.

Tips for PCI DSS Experts 

1. Perform an internal audit

Know how cardholder data is being kept and processed before you begin any PCI DSS compliance activities.

2. Secure business procedures

Before securing business operations, firms must set up and maintain security systems like anti-virus programs and firewalls to guard against unauthorized access.

3. Employees must be trained

Every employee who deals with cardholder data regularly has to be aware of the PCI DSS rules and their significance.


Hope this article was able to give you a clear understanding about PCI DSS Compliance and what are the requirements to get started. If you are looking to enhance your skills in cybersecurity even further, we highly recommend you to check Simplilearn's Professional Certificate Program in Cybersecurity- Red Team. This course, in collaboration with IIT Kanpur, can help you hone the right skills and make you job-ready in no time.

If you have any questions or queries, feel free to post them in the comments section below. Our team will get back to you at the earliest.


1. What are the 4 levels of PCI compliance?

  • Level 1 merchants execute more than 6 million transactions using cards each year. 
  • Level 2 merchants handle 1 to 6 million transactions each year. 
  • Level 3 merchants handle 20,000 to 1 million transactions each year. 
  • Level 4 merchants with less than 20,000 transactions per year.

2. What is the definition of being PCI Compliant?

It refers to the operational and technological standards organizations adhere to safeguard and preserve credit card data given by cardholders and sent via card processing operations. 

3. What are the requirements for achieving PCI compliance?

  • Use and maintain firewalls.
  • Proper cardholder data
  • Protect cardholder data
  • Encrypt transmitted data
  • Use and maintain anti-virus
  • Properly updated software
  • Restrict data access
  • Unique IDs for access
  • Restrict physical access
  • Create and maintain access logs
  • Scan and test for vulnerabilities
  • Document policies

4. Is PCI compliance a legal requirement?

If your company handles credit card transaction data, PCI compliance is required.

5. Which organization regulates PCI compliance?

The PCI Standards Council oversees compliance with PCI.

6. How is the enforcement of PCI compliance carried out?

Merchants acknowledge that failure to maintain PCI DSS compliance will result in penalties when they set up an arrangement with a payment service provider.

Our Cyber Security Certifications Duration And Fees

Cyber Security Certifications typically range from a few weeks to several months, with fees varying based on program and institution.

Program NameDurationFees
Cybersecurity for Technical Leaders Program

Cohort Starts: 1 Jun, 2024

3 Months$ 3,000
Post Graduate Program in Cyber Security

Cohort Starts: 6 Jun, 2024

6 Months$ 3,000
Caltech Cybersecurity Bootcamp

Cohort Starts: 15 Jul, 2024

6 Months$ 8,000
Cyber Security Expert6 Months$ 2,999