EO Advisor

Does Your Business Handle Online Payment Data?

New rules in effect as of April 1, 2024

In an era where digital transactions are not just a convenience but a necessity, the security of payment information is a critical concern for both consumers and businesses.

You may have already filed this away as “handled” years ago, but new PCI rules (PCI 4.0) just came into effect. Even if you have been compliant for years, please pay attention! This could even save your company on transaction fees with your credit card processer. 

What is PCI Compliance? 

The Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) represents the gold standard in safeguarding payment card data. But what does PCI compliance mean, and why is it a crucial consideration for business owners todayPCI compliance refers to the adherence to a set of security standards designed to protect card transactions over various networks and prevent the misuse of cardholders’ personal information. These standards are maintained by the PCI Security Standards Council, an organization formed by major card brands like Visa, MasterCard, and American Express.  

Why Should a Business Owner Care?

No system is impervious to breaches, but following PCI compliance standards is about taking proactive and reasonable steps to secure digital payments. For business owners, this isn’t just about avoiding penalties associated with non-compliance. It’s about: 

  • Building Trust: Demonstrating a commitment to security can significantly enhance your reputation and customer trust. 
  • Minimizing Risk: While eliminating all risk is impossible, adherence to PCI standards can greatly reduce the likelihood and impact of data breaches. 

The Evolution to PCI DSS 4.0

The transition to PCI DSS 4.0 is not about overhauling the foundation of digital payment security but adding layers to address modern challenges. Key updates include: 

  • Enhanced Authentication: With cyber threats growing in sophistication, stronger authentication methods are now required, especially for those with access to cardholder data. 
  • Greater Flexibility: Recognizing the diversity in how businesses operate, PCI 4.0 offers more flexibility in how security measures are implemented, allowing businesses to tailor their approaches based on their specific circumstances. 
  • Increased Focus on Encryption: As data breaches become more common, encrypting cardholder data at all points of the transaction process is more important than ever. 

Limiting Liability: Steps Business Owners Can Take

While it’s true that no strategy offers a complete shield against data breaches, there are several practical steps business owners can take to align with PCI DSS 4.0 and strengthen their defenses: 

  • Know Your Role: PCI compliance was previously often the responsibility of the 3rd party transaction provider (like PayPal, Square and TOAST,) but this responsibility/liability has recently shifted back to the online seller. 
  • Conduct a Data Flow Analysis: Understand how and where cardholder data flows through your business to identify potential vulnerabilities. 
  • Regularly Update Security Measures: Security isn’t a one-time setup but a continuous process. Regular updates to firewalls, encryption, and other security measures are crucial. 
  • Employee Training: Employees should be aware of security protocols and the importance of protecting customer data. 
  • Engage with Compliant Providers: Ensure that any third-party services you use, such as hosting or payment processing, are PCI compliant. 
  • Adopt a Proactive Security Posture: Regular vulnerability scans and penetration testing can help identify weaknesses before they can be exploited. 


While achieving 100% security may be an elusive goal, the essence of PCI compliance lies in adopting a comprehensive and proactive approach to payment security. The introduction of PCI DSS 4.0 reflects an evolution in these standards, emphasizing the need for business owners to adapt to the changing landscape of digital payments. By understanding and implementing these standards, businesses can not only reduce their liability but also reinforce the trust customers place in them. 

If you’d like help with your PCI compliance, or any of the above steps that a business can take to achieve compliance, please let us know. For more detailed technical information, refer to the PCI Security Standards Council website and PCI DSS Quick Reference Guide.

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