PCI Audit and Certification: What You Need to Know

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Auditwerx Blog PCI Audit and Certification_ What You Need to Know

What does it take to ensure that your organization is PCI DSS compliant? Payment compliance doesn’t have to be daunting, and choosing a reliable and experienced PCI compliance company can make all the difference when it comes to achieving your certification in an efficient manner.  

How Do I Become PCI Compliant? 

The first step to becoming PCI DSS compliant is to partner with a certified PCI Qualified Security Assessor (QSA). QSAs are certified by the PCI Security Standards Council as being qualified to assess your organization’s compliance initiatives against the PCI DSS.  

After connecting with a QSA, the next steps will depend on the maturity of your security environment. 

  1. Gap Assessment – If you don’t have a mature security environment, or if this is the first time your organization is tackling a PCI DSS compliance audit, a gap assessment is the best preparation. Your Auditwerx QSA will work with you to identify any missing or ineffective controls. This will give you a chance to ensure your systems are properly protected in accordance with the PCI DSS requirements.   
  2. Evidence Gathering – Once your controls are in top shape, the assessment can begin. Auditwerx QSAs offer virtual and onsite assessment options in order to test your controls against the PCI DSS requirements. Your QSA will review documentation, conduct interviews, and observe your organization’s controls. This stage is the main part of your PCI audit.  
  3. Final Report – After the assessment period, it will take about two weeks for your attestation to be finalized and to receive your AOC.  
  4. Ongoing Support – After the final determination is made on your organization’s PCI DSS compliance, your Auditwerx QSA is here to offer ongoing support in between examination periods. Questions about your PCI security environment? Worried about how changed in your business processes could impact your PCI DSS compliance? No problem. Your Auditwerx QSA will be available to assist.  

How Will My Clients Know I’m PCI Compliant? 

After your examination, your PCI QSA will provide you with an AOC or an Attestation of Compliance that you can share with current or future clients. This acts as formal proof that your organization is in compliance with the PCI DSS. Think of it as a report card on the status of your PCI compliance.   

SAQ and AOC 

Level 2,3, or 4 merchants will be required to complete a Self-Assessment Questionnaire (SAQ). A QSA can help you if you are new to the PCI DSS audit process. Having the assistance of a certified QSA can help streamline the process. Once you are done with the SAQ, your QSA will work with you to complete your AOC that attests to your PCI compliance results.  

ROC and AOC 

A Level 1 merchant must complete a Report on Compliance (ROC). This is mandatory for Level 1 merchants. Your QSA will help you complete both an ROC and AOC after your PCI compliance audit has been completed. Not sure what your Merchant Level is? Learn more here. 

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How Much Does PCI Compliance Cost? 

The average cost of PCI compliance varies across companies, depending on their current and ongoing compliance needs. There are many factors that could influence the cost of a PCI compliance audit, such as:  

  • How big your organization is,  
  • Your annual transaction volume,   
  • The size of your company network,  
  • How mature your security environment is.  

While PCI standards are the same across different organizations, large-scale needs usually incur a larger cost. Outside of the cost of your audit and qualified security assessor, there are additional ongoing considerations:  

  • Firewall Protection – Monthly or annual fees will be incurred to ensure your organization has proper firewall protection in place as required by the PCI DSS.  
  • Data Encryption – As payment data must be encrypted during transmission according to the PCI DSS, you’ll need an internal or external developer to ensure that payment data is protected appropriately.  
  • Antivirus Software – An ongoing subscription for an antivirus solution will be necessary in order to protect your network and sensitive payment data.   
  • Access Control – An identity verification system will be necessary to limit access to sensitive data to only those who truly need it.   
  • Network Security – You will need to ensure that you have the proper firewall and network protections in place.   
  • Policy Development – During your PCI audit, your QSA will need to examine documentation related to your specific system. You will need to develop and document your organization’s security policies.   

Connecting with an experienced QSA will ensure your audit estimate is scoped as accurately as possible ahead of your PCI DSS examination, resulting in the most accurate cost estimate for your organization. At the end of the day, the upfront price for compliance is always lower than the potential consequences of non-compliance. 

Partner with Auditwerx for PCI Reporting 

When it comes to PCI DSS compliance, Auditwerx QSAs are here to ensure that your audit goes smoothly. Whether you need an SAQ, ROC, or anything in between, our experienced QSAs are here to support you throughout the PCI audit process. If you are ready to simplify PCI compliance, contact Auditwerx today. 

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