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Once a year you gather your team, run down your data security protocol, patch any obvious holes in your network and work feverishly to meet the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standards (PCI DSS) annual audit.

But PCI compliance isn’t a goal you aim to hit once a year. Hackers are working constantly to steal your cardholder data. They’re looking for any moment of weakness to slip in and siphon off that information. So, you must be vigilant all time.

No question, information security is something you should do every day. That means embracing the 12 PCI DSS requirements, which include:

  • Install and maintain a firewall configuration to protect cardholder data.
  • Do not use vendor-supplied defaults for system passwords and other security parameters.
  • Protect stored data.
  • Encrypt transmission of cardholder data across open, public networks.
  • Use and regularly update anti-virus software.
  • Develop and maintain secure systems and applications.
  • Restrict access to cardholder data by business need-to-know.
  • Assign a unique ID to each person with computer access.
  • Restrict physical access to cardholder data.
  • Track and monitor all access to network resources and cardholder data.
  • Regularly test security systems and processes.
  • Maintain a policy that addresses information security.

Data security doesn’t begin and end with credit card data. Why wouldn’t you want to ensure that all of your company’s confidential data is secure? If your entire environment is secure, there’s less potential chinks in your network’s armor that a bad actor could exploit.

A third-party vendor, such as ZZ Servers, can help you maintain data security year round and prove it when the time comes. As a PCI Level 1 Service Provider, ZZ Servers provides custom engineered solutions for businesses that need to comply with PCI as well as Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council (FFIEC) compliance. The IT security firm can help your business validate the security of your environment through log monitoring and archiving, firewall protection, intrusion detection and system maintenance.

If you take active data security measures every day, that’s less work you’ll have to do when it comes time to have to provide the evidence required to validate you are PCI compliant. After all, a PCI audit is just a snapshot, a moment in time of your business’ credit card environment, to verify you’re doing what you say you’re doing.

If your data is secure every day, it won’t matter when the audit is. You’ll be able to answer the questions and move on.

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