The Payment Card Industry Security Standards Council sets the security standards that any merchant accepting credit or debit card payments needs to adhere to. Bank cards are linked to accounts that can contain the entirety of the holder’s wealth, making robust security essential for consumer trust. The PCI SSC standards ensure that consumers can trust any merchant who accepts card payments and doesn’t have to worry about exposing or compromising their credit card information.
Card payment terminals have always been tempting targets for criminals and hackers. Like the cards themselves, people have been trying to undermine their security since they were first introduced. Many of the most successful exploits used by criminals to steal credit card data from merchants rely on intercepting unencrypted data as it’s being processed. The PCI P2PE standard makes this approach very difficult, if not impossible, for criminals to use.
Why is PCI P2PE important?
Point-to-point encryption (P2PE) ensures that payment data is securely encrypted from the moment it’s read by a POS system and is only decrypted when it reaches a secure decryption environment.
P2PE solution providers provide P2PE-compliant terminals to merchants and handle the data processing on their behalf. If an attacker managed to intercept it during its journey, they wouldn’t be able to do much with it. P2PE solutions keep payment data secure from the moment it’s read by a POS system until it reaches the payment processor. Within a retail environment, this approach nullifies the vast majority of exploits that could be used to compromise card data.
The costs of ensuring PCI compliance can be high for merchants, but while P2PE solutions are relatively expensive, they can lead to cost reductions elsewhere, for example, by reducing the number of networks and systems in scope for PCI DSS.
What’s the difference between PCI DSS & P2PE?
The PCI Data Security Standards set out the standards and requirements for businesses to ensure that payment card information is processed and stored securely. For example, PCI DSS require merchants to encrypt any payment card information that they store on their systems and ensure it remains secure when being transferred outside the business.
The DSS also defines what the PCI regards as “strong cryptography”. Strong cryptographic standards require the use of industry-standard algorithms, key lengths, and key management.
P2PE-compliant systems make it much easier for merchants to ensure PCI DSS compliance and can save them time and money when it comes to their annual PCI audit by reducing the number of systems in scope for DSS. Some merchants are under the impression that a validated P2PE solution removes the need for DSS validation entirely, but this is not the case.
While P2PE offers strong encryption, DSS compliance is still required to address other potential risks to payment card data.
What are the benefits of PCI compliance?
PCI compliance is not a legal requirement for businesses in the UK. However, in practice, any business that accepts card payments risks fines and potential blacklisting by PCI members if they don’t comply.
Compliance with PCI standards is in the best interests of businesses and their customers. Compliance shows customers that a business takes security seriously and establishes trust. It also significantly reduces the chances of data breaches, which can cause irreparable reputational harm and lead to enormous financial costs for a merchant.
UK businesses need to comply with UK GDPR, a constantly evolving set of regulations for how businesses handle and process their user’s personal data. PCI DSS compliance encourages best practices for data handling that will also help businesses to comply with UK GDPR.
PCI P2PE solutions offer excellent security and peace of mind for merchants and consumers. By partnering with a validated P2PE Solution Provider, such as MultiPay, businesses can provide their customers with the most secure payment processing environment possible.