Payment Card Industry (PCI) Compliance Audit: How Does It Work and Who Are They

A Payment Card Industry (PCI) audit is an examination of the security of a business’s credit card processing system. A PCI audit consists of a start to finish audit to determine the effectiveness of the information security controls of a business. A PCI audit consists of several points or a checklist that businesses must comply with.

This audit is administered by the Payment Card Industry Security Standards Council (PCI SSC). The council introduced the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) in 2004 to reduce credit card fraud. From then forward, the standards have constantly been updated.

There are many advantages of PCI compliance for businesses. The most obvious reason for a business to comply with the PCI DSS is that it improves the security of a business’s credit card processing system and reduces the risk of data breaches.

Customers are also more likely to trust a business that complies with these standards as it ensures their data is safe with the business. This means that the business relationships with its customers will improve, and as a result, the business profits are also likely to increase due to compliance.

Furthermore, if a business does not comply with these standards, the business will have to pay fines anywhere between a few thousand dollars to even millions of dollars, in the most extreme cases. Therefore, for some businesses, not complying with the standards may not be an option. Moreover, as mentioned above, the business can lose its customers and sales if it does not comply with the PCI DSS.

What is PCI Compliance Audit?

A PCI compliance audit is a routine audit of businesses that allow credit card transactions. A PCI auditor carries out this audit to ensure that a business complies with the PCI DSS. This is to ensure that all the business’s credit card transactions are safe and there are safeguards against any potential breaches. Any business that allows credit card transactions are subject to a PCI compliance audit, regardless of the size of the business.

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The PCI DSS uses a classification system to rank businesses based on their number of transactions each year. Businesses are classified into four levels. The lowest rank for businesses is the level 4 rank, where businesses below 20,000 transactions per annum are classified. In comparison, the highest rank for businesses is the level 1 rank for businesses with over 6 million transactions per annum.

Who is PCI Compliance Auditor?

The PCI compliance auditor is a professional that carries out a PCI audit. The PCI auditor examines the point-of-sale system of a business along with other components of the IT process of the business to determine whether the internal operations of the business meet the standards set by the PCI DSS. These auditors give the business a risk assessment to show the business their compliance with the PCI DSS.

When conducting a PCI compliance audit, the auditor generally evaluates three factors about the business. Firstly, a PCI compliance auditor examines the entire payment system of the business being audited.

Then the auditor will check the payment process of the business to check for any exploits within the system that may compromise the customers’ data. Finally, the auditors will examine how data is stored within the system and whether it is safeguarded against third-party access.

A PCI compliance auditor will generally require the business to have:

  • An understanding of the PCI DSS 3.2.1 or the latest PCI DSS at the time.
  • An understanding of the scope of PCI DSS.
  • Transparency and accountability towards their questions.
  • A copy of the prior year’s Report on Compliance (RoC).
  • A completed PCI audit checklist.
  • Evidence of regular event log checks.
  • Documentation on how the business is dealing with any recent exploits.
  • Documentation on how third-party risks are being mitigated.
  • Evidence of quarterly scanning and penetration testing to assess recent exploits.
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Businesses with credit card transactions must abide by some standards set by the Payment Card Industry. These standards come in the form of Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard. The purpose of a PCI audit is to ensure that the credit card transactions are safe and no vulnerabilities exist within the credit card system of a business.

There are many advantages of complying with the PCI DSS. A PCI auditor is a professional who is responsible for conducting the audit of the credit card system of a business. The PCI auditor examines the payment system to check for any exploits within it and ensure that the data of customers within the system is not compromised.