Businesses that deal in credit card transactions must comply with the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) to ensure that their cardholder data is protected from breaches.

The PCI DSS is used by businesses worldwide as a security standard for processing credit card transactions. The requirements to comply with the PCI DSS are set in the form checklist.

Businesses must comply with 12 requirements that are classified into 7 objectives in the PCI DSS. The objectives and the requirements for those objectives are as below.

Objective: Maintain a Secure Network and Systems

The first objective of the PCI DSS is to maintain a secure network and systems through the use of different systems such as firewalls. It also guides how these should be implemented, maintained, and managed. This objective has two requirements as below.

1.Install and maintain a firewall configuration to protect cardholder data

Firewalls are the main line of defense against any possible network breaches. A firewall is a network security system that monitors and filters any incoming or outgoing traffic based on predefined security rules.

Therefore, the PCI DSS requires all businesses to have a firewall configured to protect the data of the cardholders.

 2.Do not use vendor-supplied defaults for system passwords and other security parameters

When trying to exploit the network system of businesses for vulnerabilities, the first step hackers try to take is to check whether the network can be accessed through default passwords.

Therefore, for businesses to comply with the PCI DSS and to protect customer data, they must not use default passwords.

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Objective: Protect Cardholder Data

Cardholder data consists of sensitive information about the customers of a business that is printed, processed, transmitted, or stored by the business.

Whether the data is used locally or transmitted over a network, businesses are required to protect this data. To meet this objective, businesses must fulfill the following two requirements:

3.Protect stored cardholder data

There are many modern methods of protecting the data of cardholders. For example, businesses can use encryption, truncation, hashing among other methods to protect cardholder data.

Businesses must also only store minimal data about cardholders and only for the time, it is needed. As soon as the data isn’t needed anymore, it should be removed from the system.

4.Encrypt transmission of cardholder data across open, public networks

Hackers can intercept transmissions of cardholder data across open, public networks.  Businesses can ensure that the cardholder data is safe by encrypting it before transmitting it across the network. This way if hackers get their hands on the data, they still won’t be able to access information within it.

Objective: Maintain a Vulnerability Management Program

The next objective requires businesses to maintain a vulnerability management program to continuously check their systems for any weakness. The requirements of this objective are as below.

5.Protect all systems against malware and regularly update anti-virus software or programs

Malware is malicious software that can be introduced in the network of a business. Through the use of malware, hackers can easily access and extract any information on the network. Therefore, a business must use anti-virus software to tackle it.

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6.Develop and maintain secure systems and applications

Businesses are also required to use the latest versions of software and apply any patches available for the software to avoid any vulnerabilities within the system.

Objective: Implement Strong Access Control Measures

This objective requires only authorized resources to be granted access to the credit card systems of a business. The requirements for this objective are:

7. Restrict access to cardholder data by business need to know.

Access to cardholder should only be granted when needed. If access is not needed, the access should be cut off and reestablished whenever needed again.

8. Identify and authenticate access to system components

Access should be given using a unique identification to authorized resources. This makes it easier to identify and authenticate them within the system.

9. Restrict physical access to cardholder data.

Any physical access to the cardholder data should be restricted to authorized resources as well.

Objective: Regularly Monitor and Test Networks

Another objective of the PCI DSS is that businesses should regularly monitor and test their networks for weaknesses. The requirements for the objective are as below.

10. Track and monitor all access to network resources and cardholder data

Businesses should use log files, system traces, or other tools to enable tracking of access to the cardholder data. Businesses cannot identify and monitor access to network resources without proper logs.

11. Regularly test security systems and processes

Businesses should also regularly test their security systems and processes to identify any vulnerabilities and prevent them before they occur.

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Objective: Maintain an Information Security Policy

Finally, businesses should also develop proper policies and communicate them with their employees. The only requirement of this objective is as follows.

 12.Maintain a policy that addresses information security for all personnel

All employees of a business must understand what is expected of them when it comes to the security of cardholder data.

Businesses should develop proper policies for cardholder data within the workplace and ensure all employees follow the policies.


Businesses worldwide must comply with the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard to ensure their cardholder data is safeguarded against any breaches.

The PCI DSS has 7 objectives that every business must comply with. The 7 objectives have a combined 12 requirements.