PCI DSS Compliance: A Guide & Checklist For eCommerce Businesses

E-commerce frauds cause loss of around $660,000 per hour as per the

RSA Anti Fraud Command Centre (AFCC). The major contributor to them is the payment frauds.”

The risk of money theft for e-commerce customers is rising which brings to us an alarming situation. The situation is becoming worse with on-going negligence by small and mid-sized e-commerce development companies. A single drawback in the policies and formulation of their online retail stores can cost fortunes to the buyers.

You must be worried about the security and reputation of your e-commerce business.

Understanding the concerns of small businesses, I have attempted to resolve the following queries in this blog:

  • What is the meaning of being PCI DSS compliant for an e-commerce company?
  • Do I require to be PCI DSS compliant if my e-commerce business is small?
  • Why is PCI DSS compliance important for e-commerce companies?
  • What are the risks of neglecting PCI DSS?
  • What is the checklist for becoming a PCI DSS compliant e-commerce company?
  • Is PCI DSS compliance hard to get?

E-commerce sites are at great risk when it comes to cybercrimes because these are card-not-present (CNP) payment channels. The payment functionality of the e-commerce web and mobile apps often have loopholes that pose for dire consequences.

In order to prevent repercussions, it is suggested for e-commerce websites to follow the security standards set by a few organizations. Major credit card companies have recommended certain requirements named as PCI DSS which must be followed by e-commerce companies.

These guidelines are not legal advice but help a lot in safeguarding the information of the cardholder. The threat to their privacy has been clearly depicted through the statistics. In fact, according to Juniper Research, it is estimated that online payment fraud will reach $22 billion in 2019 and $48 billion by 2023.

Therefore, to save your customers from such payment frauds make sure to hire the best software development companies in India which can create a checkout page which is fully secured from fraudsters.

Also, ask them if they can make your e-commerce site PCI DSS compliant or not. If you think that this will only provide a secure transaction for the customers then you are wrong. There are many other benefits which you can avail by following these standards.

Before getting into the benefits and features of PCI DSS, let us first be clear about its origin and meaning.

What is PCI DSS Compliance?

In a nutshell, Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) is a requirement which is important to be followed by any entity that is storing, processing and transmitting the details of a cardholder.

These requirements are developed by the top card companies like American Express, Mastercard, JCB, Discover, and VISA. They were created to protect the sensitive data of the customers sharing their card details with an e-commerce development company.

PCI DSS is a formal set of standards that can cover all brands and meant to protect all the parties including the card brands, customers and retailers. These standards are recommended to all sizes of businesses including the small businesses.

With the help of PCI guidelines, you can make an internal security program for your e-commerce store. Get help from e-commerce development companies in India to design it according to your business goals and needs.

Why is it important for e-commerce companies to be PCI DSS compliant?

You must be wondering that why do I need to be PCI compliant? Here are the top benefits that you need to know:

These requirements are more technical than any other industrial standards.

By following these guidelines you can manage the payment IT infrastructure of your e-commerce business with high proficiency.

The risk of losing the cardholders private data can be reduced by multiple folds once an ecommerce company gets PSI DSS compliant.

This can strengthen and enhance your overall Information security program.

PCI DSS will help in gaining the trust of your customers which will give your business a strong brand reputation.

What is the risk of being non-compliant to PCI DSS for e-commerce businesses?

Until now, we have discussed various benefits of PCI DSS compliance with e-commerce websites. Here are certain repercussions that an e-commerce business might need to face if it is not compliant to PCI DSS:

  • Ban on using credit cards: These standards are set by big credit card companies, so whenever a fraud happens through your e-commerce site, they quickly catch you. The irresponsible merchants are prohibited from using their credit cards.
  • Fines: Once a data breach is detected, a fine from $86,500 to 4 million dollars will be imposed. Penalties will be imposed if it is found that your customers are experiencing fraudulent transactions.
  • Forensic investigation: After a few data breaches, you will be required to hire professionals and get a time-consuming investigation done. For a small business, such an investigation will cost about $20K to $50K.
  • Liability claims: A liability may be claimed through lawsuits if there are data breaches through your e-commerce store. This is to make you realize that the protection of your customers’ information is your responsibility.
  • Reassessment: A complete reassessment for PCI compliance will be conducted. An external Qualified Security Accessor (QSA) will perform this to allow you to accept credit cards again.
  • Bear the reissuing cost: The credit card companies will require the e-commerce store owners to pay the reissuing cost of about $3 to $10 per card. It involves the cost of activation, communication, and shipping.

How to make your e-commerce business PCI DSS compliant?

There are various requirements mentioned in the Payment card industry data security standard. They are further divided into subcategories and you will have to perform a lot of actions to make your e-commerce website compliant to PCI DSS.

This may seem to be a hectic job for the e-commerce websites of smaller sizes but I have explained these requirements in simple words. If you have limited infrastructure, you can follow these steps to make your business PCI DSS compliant.

Here is a complete checklist of PCI DSS for your e-commerce website:

Attain a secure network:

This can be done by thoroughly documenting your work. For this purpose, you need to avail the best web development services in India. They are capable of offering you services like writing a firewall process.

Here you need to list out all your network servers and identify your card data environment. This will help you in finding out the data that is accessible internally. Take steps to restrict access with the help of a firewall.

Disable default accounts:

One of the most common mistakes that every e-commerce business person commits is using the vendor-supplied defaults. These should be changed or disabled before taking the first step of network installation.

The security vulnerabilities need to be minimized by setting up robust configuration standards. Make sure that you hire Indian software developers who ensure to write codes in strong cryptography.

Moreover, if you are sharing the hosting providers then make sure each party protects each other’s data. As an organization, you have to be efficient in creating and maintaining highly secured policies and following safe operational procedures.

Avoid storing cardholder data

Do you know the e-commerce fraud rates are on a rising spree? There was an 88% increase in these rates in the year 2018 from the year 2017 as per the cybercrime report. In such scenarios, how can you risk the safety of your users’ data?

Cardholder data is sensitive in nature which contains the cardholder information, card numbers, and passwords. You should avoid storing this information on your network to avoid any kind of fraudulent activity and offer all the benefits of online payment.

If you are storing then use strong encryption. For this, you can use a technology called SSL/TLS. It helps in encrypting data (cardholder information) that travels between the systems.

It is mandatory under PCI DSS to accept payments by using an SSL certificate. This will allow your e-commerce website to get accessed with HTTPS instead of HTTP. There are many hosting websites that are providing these certificates for free or at some fees.

Moreover, SSL certificates help in gaining trust in the e-commerce industry among its vast customer base. It will also help in improving your SEO ranking as Google has started giving more value to the websites with HTTPS.

Update anti-virus program regularly:

Do you know bad-actors never search for vulnerable websites manually? There are bots which search for such websites who are not secured and can be attacked. You need to manage these vulnerabilities efficiently.

These can be done by installing and updating the antivirus programs in all computers and servers. Make sure that these programs run uninterruptedly. The access to stop these programs should not be given to users at all.

Only authorized personnel should be able to disable or alter the anti-virus mechanisms at your servers. Moreover, these should be documented, so that all the affected parties are clear about these mechanisms.

Use a secured CMS:

Are you planning to start an e-commerce company? Make sure to hire the best Magento ecommerce development company in India. It does not matter if you are just starting with this or have a great user base already, CMS security is always at risk.

This is because if you have a vulnerable CMS and it not-so-strong extensions and plugins then you will be at a vulnerable state irrespective of the traffic you have. This is why a trusted e-commerce development company is essential.

Even if you are enjoying a safe working today, you will have the risk of attracting a malicious bot in the future. Hence, the coding of each and every component of your website should be done with extreme care and efficiency.

In case you are stuck with a vulnerable CMS then you can make use of a firewall. This will help in conducting virtual patching and protect your server from all the possible vulnerabilities.

Ensure access control:

Very few people whose job requires access should be allowed to use your secured networks. Moreover, you should be able to monitor their activities. By limiting the access, you can cut down the chances of frauds.

Make sure to have written policy related to this access permissions. This policy should be shared with every affected party including the customers whose personal data is required to be protected.

Furthermore, you can provide unique IDs to each and every person who is accessing your network. Other authentication methods can also be used to ensure top-class secured network access.

Attackers usually search for websites with weak authentication requirement. For this purpose, you can use multi-step authentication practices for your server environment or follow the best practices for password security.

5 Most Common myths related to e-commerce PCI DSS compliance

  • PCI is unreasonable and requires a lot of efforts: Most of the requirements of these standards are security policies which should be followed in all cases.
  • PCI makes an e-commerce store secure: It does make you secure but following security provisions is a continuous process and cannot end at being a PCI compliant company.
  • One transaction does not require PCI: PCI compliance is required in all cases where payment is accepted through cards. It does not matter whether you have any payments or just one.
  • PCI says to store card data: It is the most baseless myth. In fact, card companies strongly discourage the storing of cardholder details on any server. PCI DSS compliance does not ask for this at all.
  • PCI is tough: You too may have this opinion earlier. But I hope that after reading this blog, you have understood that it’s just a matter of few steps and PCI DSS compliance is not at all a difficult task.


Making your e-commerce business PCI DSS compliant is not something which should haunt you (at least after reading this blog). In fact, it is something which will help in increasing the trust of customers and sales of your products by offering a highly secure network to buyers.

PCI DSS is not about proving something to the top card companies but it is all about removing all the barriers for your business in the process of reaching to the success peaks. Benefits of PCI compliance are much more than the efforts you will have to put into it.

To avoid the risks of being a non-compliant to PCI DSS, you can come into contact with e-commerce development companies in India. As the versions of PCI DSS keep on updating, it is important to work on this under the supervision of people who possess professional knowledge.

If you have found this piece informational and helpful then do not hesitate to share your views. You are most welcome to add something to this article by commenting below. Let’s share opinions to make our e-commerce industry free of frauds.

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