PCI DSS Compliance for WordPress – What You Need To Know

PCI compliance regulations were enacted by the Payment Card Industry (PCI). They are meant to enhance data security and minimize fraud. Technically, these guidelines aren’t mandatory. Nonetheless, any card-accepting business needs to comply with the guidelines lest it gets subjected to litigation, termination of their accounts, or fines if fraud occurs within their cardholder environments.

If you run an e-commerce business or a WordPress website, PCI compliance shouldn’t be a new concept to you. Just like other online merchants who accept credit card payments, you should be PCI DSS-compliant. Likewise, if your WordPress e-commerce website uses third-party payment gateways such as Stripe and PayPal, some PCI DSS compliance regulations apply to you.

Generally, merchants are responsible for the manner that they handle, process, and store their clients’ credit card information. Therefore, you are also responsible for any fraudulent activity that results from that. PCI DSS guidelines are meant to protect your e-commerce WordPress website and its customers from fraud.

Why PCI Compliance is Important to e-Commerce WordPress Sites

E-commerce WordPress websites should consider PCI compliance as a fraud protection strategy. Your website needs to be compliant because you don’t get to meet your customers face to face. Therefore, you don’t have a way of independently verifying the identities of your shoppers. According to market insights, 60% of cyber-attacks target small online businesses such as your e-commerce WordPress website.

Becoming PCI-compliant goes a long way in helping you secure your customers’ payment card data. Since most WordPress websites use third-party payment gateways, the PCI regulations that apply to them are more relaxed than those that apply to more prominent merchants. Often, compliance is attained by completing a standard Self-Assessment Questionnaire.

WordPress PCI Compliance: How to Protect Yourself

If you are a WordPress e-commerce merchant, you shouldn’t overlook PCI compliance since it minimizes the risk of getting your website hacked. It would be best if you started your compliance journey by choosing a PCI-compliant payment processor.

In case the provider that you choose doesn’t follow data security best practices, you will be left vulnerable. This highlights the significance of selecting payment processors who can guarantee secure payment gateways. Here are the steps that you should take to make your WordPress e-commerce website PCI DSS-compliant.

Determine Your Compliance Level

PCI DSS puts ranks all merchants at different levels. The level that you belong to is determined by the number of transactions that your e-commerce WordPress website handles. Once you determine your compliance level, it will be easier to point out the guidelines that you should follow. Generally, most e-commerce WordPress website owners are considered Level 4 merchants.

Fill Out a Self-Assessment Questionnaire

After determining your compliance level, you should take a self-assessment questionnaire. This helps you to determine your website’s current risk exposure. Most questions will require straightforward yes or no responses.

Approved Scanning Vendors

Your vendors can put you at the risk of cyber-attacks. Although it isn’t mandatory, you should consider including an approved scanning vendor that uses automated tools to pinpoint potential vulnerabilities in the hardware and software that manage payment data.

Update Yourself on Security Policies

To achieve and maintain PCI DSS compliance status, you should be aware of the latest regulations that apply to your website. Therefore, you should be mindful of security patches, software updates, malware scanning, and antivirus protection. If you have any employees, they should be trained on how to handle payment card information properly.

Implement SSLs

Secure Sockets Layer Certificates (SSLs) are add-on credentials that allow online shoppers on your site to know that they have direct and encrypted connections with your site (rather than copycat websites). Once you install an SSL certificate, your e-commerce WordPress website’s domain will start with “https” instead of “http.” With an SSL certificate in place, all communication between your WordPress site and its visitors will be encrypted.

Seek Further Verification Details from Shoppers

For online sales to go through, most e-commerce websites require cardholders’ names, account numbers, and card expiry date. These are the bare minimum, and they do not guarantee protection against fraud. To prevent fraudulent purchases, ask shoppers to provide additional authentication details. This may include card verification values and billing addresses.

Use the Right Tools and Plugins

Contrary To what you might think, WordPress isn’t PCI-certified. However, this e-commerce platform was designed with security in mind. For instance, WordPress has admin controls that allow website owners to restrict access for individual users. When you take advantage of this tool, it will be impossible for cybercriminals to get hold of payment card data.

Install and Maintain Firewalls

The primary PCI DSS requirement is the protection of cardholder data. PCI DSS compliance isn’t just about your WordPress e-commerce site. It covers all aspects of the enterprise’s physical and IT security. Besides configuring firewalls for your WordPress website, you should also configure and use firewalls for your home and office networks. PCI DSS also requires all users who access your cardholder data to have personal firewalls on their computers.

Avoid Using Vendor-Supplied Defaults

It will be easy for hackers to access your cardholder environment if you use vendor-supplied defaults for security parameters such as system passwords. It would help if you always changed default vendor passwords besides enforcing policies for better WordPress security. This also applies to default configurations and software installations.

Malware Protection

PCI DSS requires you to maintain a vulnerability management program to ensure that your system isn’t vulnerable to particular attacks. This also protects the system against all types of malware threats. Keeping your antimalware software up-to-date helps you prevent new threats. Besides, PCI DSS requires you to secure all the applications and software that you use. Moreover, the software and applications that you use shouldn’t contain any vulnerabilities.

Identification and Authentication of Access to System Components

PCI DSS also recommends authentication methods that can restrict access to crucial system components within the cardholder environment. It stipulates that users should always get authenticated whenever they access cardholder data. All sensitive data, user account pages, administrator consoles, and other critical points of entry ought to be protected using robust authentication methods. This includes two-factor authentication.

All individuals who require access to your WordPress e-commerce website, admin portals, network devices, business data, and customer portals should have inimitable credentials. This is essential because you won’t be forced to track user activity in the site’s activity log. Likewise, you should ensure that the credentials never get shared since this can lead to lots of security issues.

Even as you work to secure your cardholder environment to attain PCI DSS compliance status, you should never forget to review existing infrastructure. This entails implementing security policies for ensuring that all your IT infrastructure components are secure. Likewise, always ascertain that your WordPress security policies are applied at all times. This will help you attain and maintain your PCI compliance status.

There’s so much that you need to do to ensure that your e-commerce WordPress website becomes PCI-compliant. You’ll have to meet many requirements, and this may sound like overkill. Nonetheless, PCI DSS requirements are meant to help rather than curtail your business operations. You should start taking care of basic PCI DSS requirements so that as your e-commerce business grows, you won’t have any problem adapting to new regulations.

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