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What Are the Differences between Being PCI Compliant and Certified

For most people PCI complaint and PCI certified might not mean very much, but for merchants and other business owners, these two categories are very important when it comes to growing a business and attracting customers. Of course, there are some differences between the two, but they are both equally important when it comes to building a secure environment for the clients of any company. 

How to Become PCI Compliant 

In todaysâ world, PCI compliance has become the norm when it comes to most merchants, especially the ones operating over the internet. These have to meet rigorous safety standards in order to ensure that their customersâ, and especially their customersâ data isnât in any kind of jeopardy. But not everybody might understand what being compliant really means. First of all, they should know that âbeing compliantâ refers to respecting a set of rules set by the PCI Security Standards Council. These rules ensure that a business, and everyone running it, involved in the processing of customer data, has the necessary safety protocols in place in order to avoid any kind of data leaks or breaches. 

Becoming PCI compliant  might not seem as a big deal at first look for many, but it is when it comes to competing with other companies on the market. In order for a merchant to become PCI compliant he has to meet a series of standards. This is usually done by filling out a questionnaire regarding the activity of the company and aspects related to the level of payment processing security the company the company has in place. Filling out a questionnaire like this shouldnât take more than a month. Although companies can fill them out themselves, they are usually advised to seek professional help in the form of a QSA (Qualified, Security Assessor). 

Even today, when it has gotten pretty hard to actually go on location and asses a business, companies are still submitting their questionnaires in hopes of becoming PCI compliant. But not being able to physically be present and asses a company doesnât mean that the company gets an easy pass, on the contrary. Even more guidelines have been put into place and more strict measures have been taken in order to make sure that a company follows all the rules. This is also one of the major points in any guideline. It states that any company seeking complaint status has to create and maintain a certain security culture within it and make sure that the staff follows it. Companies are advised to do so by constantly updating their security policies and protocols.      

What Is the Difference between Being PCI Compliant and PCI Certified?

Although some might not actually know, there are some big differences between being PCI complaint and PCI certified . The main difference is the way that status is obtained. Compliance can be achieved by submitting a questionnaire regarding the way a company has implemented the security protocols stated in the guidelines by the PCI Security Standards Council. This is usually filled out by the business itself, although sometimes they might ask for outside help in doing that. 

Becoming PCI certified is a whole other thing. Although it requires businesses to comply to the same security standards and protocols as the compliant ones, being certified means that and outside QSA has come and checked that those protocols have actually been put into place and that the staff are observing a certain security culture within the company. As opposed to the simple questionnaire, a QSA assessment is more rigorous and in depth. The first thing that has to be checked is the software used by a business. This has to be up to standards in order to ensure that the company doesnât run the risk of data breaches or leaks. 

Another major aspect that makes a difference between being certified and compliant is the time it takes to gain the status. A compliance questionnaire usually takes about a month to fill out.  After that, it is submitted and you wait for the response. A certification requires a more rigorous control and an in depth audit of various aspects of the company, and can take up to 6 months. This is why the PCI certified club is such an elitist one.      
Benefits of Being PCI Certified
Some merchants might try to avoid becoming certified and settle for just being compliant. 6 months is a long period, especially if you are just starting to get off the ground. This isnât necessarily a bad thing, but the certification brings a lot more advantages than just being compliant. It brings a certain standing in the community and it even can bring more prominent partners. 

Other PCI certification benefits:  

1.    Stronger security for customers
When a business becomes certified it automatically means that the data from its customers is safer with them than with other, un-certified companies. This also means that that business has created a strong security culture within it and is actively contributing to the improvement of security guidelines throughout the industry. 

2.    Avoiding getting Fines
Becoming certified can also mean you avoid getting fined by certain international organizations. Although this isnât a world-wide practice, some countries will fine a company if they do not implement or respect security guidelines. 

3.    Protecting your Customers
In simple terms, the better your security, the more people will want to work with you. Your customersâ security should always be your main focus. Being a sure target for cyber-attackers and having a weak defense against data leaks and breaches can make customers avoid doing business with you.  

4.    Creating a Brand Image
In almost every country in the world, regardless of industry, data security is a good thing to have. The tighter the security of a company is, the better its image. And this can bring numerous other benefits like attracting more customers and letting the company engage with more serious partners.  

5.    Achieving the Peace of Mind you deserve
Although some might argue that this isnât necessarily a benefit, being able to relax after a hard daysâ work knowing that your customersâ data and yours are safe cam make for  a pretty strong argument in favor of becoming PCI certified. 

About Author Dane Bronson :

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Article Added on Wednesday, June 24, 2020
Other Articles by Dane Bronson

Are You PCI Compliant What Does It Mean And Why You Have To Be
PCI compliant is a term used to define the merchants, card issuers, and any other credit card processing entity that operates in any kind of commerce area. Although compliance is not necessarily regulated through a strict set of rules, it is mandatory through court precedent. The people in charge of making sure that clear guidelines are outlined are the ones working for the Federal Trade Commission. They make sure that certain key aspects of data security is being observed by all parties...

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