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Using the Cloud for Credit Card Handling? Is It PCI Compliant?

If you’re a business of any size that conducts online transactions involving credit or debit cards, the processing, storage, and transmission of their associated information must adhere to a set of security standards called the payment card industry data security standard (PCI). These standards apply regardless of where the data is handled. To make PCI compliance easier, many businesses opt to use a third party hosting environment such as PCI compliant cloud services. Using a quality host not only makes compliance easier, it greatly reduces the chance of a data breach from ever happening.

PCI compliance is not a one-time set-and-forget task. The required security measures must undergo continuing maintenance because the cyber threat environment is constantly evolving. This is yet another reason for using a quality host that makes ongoing security their primary mission.

A misconception of many entrepreneurs is that PCI compliance is limited to big businesses. They also believe their businesses are too small to attract the notice of hackers and other cyber criminals. It’s precisely this belief, which lulls them into a false sense of security and dissuades them from becoming compliant.

However, businesses of all sizes and even small non-business websites owned by individuals are routinely hacked. From the time a website is first established, hackers will find it within one or two months. The reason is their sheer numbers and the technology at their disposal. If you’re a business of any size, then you present a tempting target.

What Happens to Businesses That Aren’t PCI Compliant?

The consequences of a data breach involving customer credit and debit information include:

  • Lawsuits. It’s often said that society is becoming increasingly “sue happy.” This is most likely true given the huge number of law firm websites advertising their services. There’s a real chance that customers will seek litigation, especially if the compromised data resulted in identity theft.
  • Loss of business. A data breach involving customer credit and debit card data is regarded by the customer as a breach of trust. Because they trusted a business with their sensitive information, it’s being passed around, possibly in a data black market. This would surely discourage even the most loyal of customers. The resulting brand damage can have lasting business effects.
  • Fines. If a business that suffers a breach is found to be out of compliance, the fines can be hundreds of thousands of dollars. This, combined with the aforementioned business losses may force the owner to close their doors.

WHOA.com takes security seriously. We use multiple layers of security to protect our networks from all threats. To learn more about our PCI compliant cloud service, please contact us.

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