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For new business owners, determining how people will pay for their goods or services is a primary concern. However, it’s a decision that might be easily overlooked as a new business moves to launch. Website design, shop fit-out, hiring employees and acquiring stock usually take priority leaving little time to consider backend setup. Depending on the type of business, there are several payment systems available to collect credit card information. Below, we outline the risks associated with collecting, storing and using credit card data and compliance with the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standards (PCI DSS).

What are the Risks?

Credit card fraud is a major problem in the Australian economy. Collecting and storing credit card information exposes you to unscrupulous individuals stealing the information to make illegal payments. Online payment systems such as eWay, Braintree and Paypal can afford to invest a considerable amount into developing secure systems and software which collect and store credit card data.

The increasing sophistication of hackers makes it crucial to store credit card details behind secure firewalls and other systems making it impossible to access such valuable personal details. If you collect credit card information, you will need to consider encrypting data in transit or otherwise restricting access to cardholder data.

The PCI DSS

If you’re still determined to collect credit card details online, then you will need to be familiar with the PCI DSS. The PCI DSS are a set of standards outlining how every entity which processes, stores or transmits cardholder data must protect this data. If you collect cardholder information, ensure that you are first prepared to meet these rigorous standards by:

  1. Building and maintaining a secure network by installing and maintaining a firewall configuration;
  2. Protecting cardholder data by encrypting the transmission of cardholder data across open, public networks;
  3. Maintaining a ‘vulnerability management program’ by using and regularly updating anti-virus software and developing and maintaining secure systems in general;
  4. Assigning each person with computer access a unique ID and restricting physical access to cardholder data;
  5. Regularly monitoring and testing networks by tracking all access to network resources and regularly testing security systems/processes; and
  6. Maintaining an information security policy which addresses all information security for all personnel.

The PCI DSS are strict standards, and you may be much better off handing control of cardholder data to a specialist while you focus on your new business. Alternatively, you should seek advice about complying with the PCI DSS so that you do not inadvertently allow someone to hack your server’s details, leaving you liable for cardholder losses.

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In short, you should seriously think before you elect to collect and store cardholder information. You need to store information incredibly securely, which would best be done by specialists. If you collect data, you need to comply with the PCI DSS, and you should seek specific legal advice on how you can create a secure payments system. If you have any questions about compliance or how to store your data securely, get in touch with our IT lawyers on 1300 544 755.

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