Why should my company comply with a higher level of PCI compliance?
Why would my company want to comply with a higher level of PCI compliance (Level 1 Report on Compliance) if we are allowed to complete the “easier” Self-Assessment Questionnaire?
If a PCI Service Provider stores, processes, or transmits less than 300,000 transactions annually they are typically eligible to validate their PCI compliance status via a Self-Assessment Questionnaire (SAQ). A SAQ can be considerably less effort than a Level 1 Report on Compliance (L1 ROC) assessment. A ROC is performed by an external auditor, also known as a Qualified Security Assessor, and the reporting and validation process can require significant effort from the company being assessed.
The primary reasons for signing up for the more stringent validation process include:
1. A desire to have external validation that your overall program is compliant with industry and security best practices. An external QSA assessment is a bit more effort, but it can help to uncover potential security/compliance gaps and provide a high level of assurance that all DSS controls are designed and functioning as expected.
2. A way to provide your organization with a sales enabler and marketing differentiator. An external QSA-led assessment typically provides more assurances to interested third parties about the state of your PCI compliance program. L1 Compliant entities can also have their name added to the list of validated third party service providers maintained by Visa – this can be a great tool in your marketing arsenal. Demonstrating the highest level of compliance can be the difference between closing or losing a deal, and will often be a contractual requirement of partners and customers that you want to do business with. Being compliant with the PCI DSS requirements makes it much easier to have conversations about your security and compliance posture with prospects and partners.
It is common for companies to do a Self-Assessment in their first year as they prepare for the more stringent ROC validation for the following year. This approach allows a company to get all of their technical and administrative controls in place, while still meeting their annual compliance obligations.
About the author: Tony Fulda is a Cybersecurity Principal and Vanta’s resident PCI DSS guru. For the past 17 years he has worked with some of the largest organizations in the world, as well as fast growing startups, to help them solve complex payment security, risk, and compliance issues.
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PCI Compliance Selection Guide
Determine Your PCI Compliance Level
If your organization processes, stores, or transmits cardholder data, you must comply with the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS), a global mandate created by major credit card companies. Compliance is mandatory for any business that accepts credit card payments.
When establishing strategies for implementing and maintaining PCI compliance, your organization needs to understand what constitutes a Merchant or Service Provider, and whether a Self Assessment Questionnaire (SAQ) or Report on Compliance (ROC) is most applicable to your business.
Answer a few short questions and we’ll help identify your compliance level.
Does your business offer services to customers who are interested in your level of PCI compliance?
Identify your PCI SAQ or ROC level
The PCI Security Standards Council has established the below criteria for Merchant and Service Provider validation. Use these descriptions to help determine the SAQ or ROC that best applies to your organization.
Good news! Vanta supports all of the following compliance levels:
A SAQ A is required for Merchants that do not require the physical presence of a credit card (like an eCommerce, mail, or telephone purchase). This means that the Merchant’s business has fully outsourced all cardholder data processing to PCI DSS compliant third party Service Providers, with no electronic storage, processing, or transmission of any cardholder data on the Merchant’s system or premises.
Get PCI DSS certified
A SAQ A-EP is similar to a SAQ A, but is a requirement for Merchants that don't receive cardholder data, but control how cardholder data is redirected to a PCI DSS validated third-party payment processor.
Learn more about eCommerce PCI
A SAQ D includes over 200 requirements and covers the entirety of PCI DSS compliance. If you are a Service Provider, a SAQ D is the only SAQ you’re eligible to complete.
Use our PCI checklist
A Report on Compliance (ROC) is an annual assessment that determines your organization’s ability to protect cardholder data. If you’re a Merchant that processes over six million transactions annually or a Service Provider that processes more than 300,000 transactions annually, your organization is responsible for both a ROC and an Attestation of Compliance (AOC).
Automate your ROC and AOC
Download this checklist for easy reference
Learn more about how Vanta can help. You can also find information on PCI compliance levels at the PCI Security Standards Council website or by contacting your payment processing partner.
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