Why Is PCI Level 1 Compliance Important for Your E-Business?

Every time you leave your credit card number on a commercial website, you become a potential prey. Although online shoppers expect a high level of financial protection from the owners of e-stores, sometimes things can go wrong.

In order to reduce the risk of data breach, e-business owners need to protect their clients from such a risk. The PCI Level 1 compliance is one of the efficient features for protecting online buyers. In this piece, we’ll explain this credit card standard in greater detail so that business owners realize its importance.

The basics of PCI DSS

In 2004, four major credit card operators – American Express, Visa, MasterCard, and Discover – joined forces to work out a strategy that would protect their users from online fraud. The outcome of their common work was the payment card industry data security standard – PCI DSS. Through this standard, they defined what precautions every online vendor needs to take in order to ensure proper protection for online credit-card payers. These are the most important technical conditions:

Online Theft

1. High confidentiality of cardholders’ personal data

Your clients’ personal information, such as their Social Security numbers, dates of birth, email addresses and other data have to be protected from hackers. Passwords and encryptions are the most convenient ways to do so.

Also, when you’re transferring their data online, it has to be properly encrypted, so that data thieves stay away from them.

2. Latest protection software

In order keep your clients’ data safe from intruders, you must regularly update all the firewalls and anti-malware tools. This is why it’s crucial to choose the right E-commerce system at the beginning of your e-business story. This provider will equip you with the most suitable protection package for your clients’ data.

3. Secure networks

Securing your customers’ online information is futile if you don’t take care of your in-house network. A great proactive option for this purpose is getting a secure router.

Also, everybody who uses your local network should go through a two-tier identification process. The first step is using a complex network password. The second one is attributing a special personal identification number for everybody who has access to your shoppers’ credit card data.

4. Restricted access to clients’ data

You should limit the number of your staff members who have access to credit card and account numbers. Only the employees in charge of payments and accounting within your business should handle those classified data.

5. Strictly defined terms of shopping

Finally, every online entrepreneur needs to define the terms of shopping and any other transactions in advance. That way every party that makes payments or transactions with them will know the terms and conditions of their collaboration. Furthermore, those rules should determine what will happen in case of a data breach, so as to avoid any ambiguities.

Who needs to follow the PCI Level 1 compliance?

Now that we’ve discussed the key technical prerequisites, let’s have an insight into one of the key protection standards – the PCI Level 1 compliance. It’s important for business owners and their accounting teams to know if they’re obliged to behave in accordance with this standard.

The following categories of businesses need to follow the PCI Level 1:

  • Traders whose data have been hacked ­– If your business has already experienced a data breach, you belong to Level 1. This means security assessors will thoroughly scrutinize your data protection policy.
  • Merchants whose revenues exceed $6 million – If the total number of your customers’ transactions paid with Visa and Mastercard cards goes above this sum, you’re in Level 1.
  • Categorized by a card association – If a card association decides for any reason that your business is the part of PCI Level 1, you have to comply with that standard.

The role of the Qualified Security Assessor

As you’ve noticed, the PCI Level 1 compliance is related to more lucrative and successful business ventures. Therefore, the rules regarding its implementation are stricter than the ones for levels 2, 3 and 4.

First of all, your Level 1 business will be assessed annually by a Qualified Security Assessor (aka QSA). This officer will test several aspects of your business, so as to check whether you really stick with the PCI Level 1 compliance. They’ll also test your POS system, to check if your customers are safe from being hacked while making a payment.

Moreover, the QSA will monitor other elements of your data security systems – mostly the five aspects discussed in the first paragraph.

When they finish with their analysis, you’ll get a list of actions you need to take, to resist an attack and prevent online fraud. After they’ve gone, your task is to make the suggested changes and raise the level of data protection­.

What if you remain noncompliant?

Some business owners might find adapting their e-businesses to PCI standards too demanding and time-consuming. What you should know is that if you don’t comply, you leave things to chance. You might not experience any inconveniences (which is less probable), but you’ll get a reputation of an unreliable business.

Credit Card Theft

Also, your customers may ask you if paying with credit cards on your website is secured by PCI standards. When they hear a negative answer, they’ll most probably just go and buy from another vendor.

Furthermore, if you don’t introduce the latest standards imposed by the PCI Security Standards Council and you experience a data breach, you’ll face several difficult issues. Not only that you’ll ruin the reputation of your business, but Mastercard, Visa, and some banks might sue you, as well. For all these reasons, it’s wiser to comply with the rules on credit card payments required by banking authorities.


When you’re planning to launch an online business, you’ll have to accept some rules pertaining to international transactions. Nowadays, the supreme body of these measures is the PCI Council. What you should do is study the standards set by this institution and ensure high protection for your clients. After reading this article, you’ll know whether your business qualifies for the PCI Level 1 compliance. As a result, you’ll secure the financial data of your customers and efficiently manage your online transactions.

Mark Thomasson
Mark is a biz-dev hero at Invoicebus - a simple invoicing service that gets your invoices paid faster. He passionately blogs on topics that help small biz owners succeed in their business. He is also a lifelong learner who practices mindfulness and enjoys long walks in nature more than anything else.
Let's be inbox friends!

Let's be inbox friends!

Drop us your email to receive a weekly digest of our latest blog posts right in your inbox.

To confirm your subscription, please check your email.