All organizations that process credit card data are required to be PCI compliant and abide by PCI DSS security standards. However, many organizations treat PCI compliance as an expensive, stressful, and time-consuming annual event. Often departments have fixed budgets, which is why it's important to reduce costs whenever possible while still being able to maintain compliance requirements.

What are the Costs Associated with Achieving Compliance?

The costs of PCI compliance vary depending on your company and the security measures you have in place. But while there's no exact cost for becoming PCI compliant, costs associated with compliance typically fall into three categories:

  • Technology – Upgrading applications, networks, firewalls, monitoring tools, etc.
  • PCI DSS validation costs – Assessments or scans
  • Compliance maintenance – Ensuring your company continues to adhere to PCI standards year-round, keeping up-to-date with documentation and changes

How to Reduce PCI Compliance Costs

While your PCI validation costs will be fixed, you can make changes to the way your company addresses security to bring down the costs associated with achieving compliance. Here are four ways to effectively reduce PCI compliance costs:

1) Install Updates

When software gets outdated it quickly becomes vulnerable to attack. If you leave it a whole year between updates, bringing all your software and systems back up-to-date with the latest version will be a huge task for your security team, probably requiring them to work overtime or bring in additional staff to cover the extra workload.

This means staffing and technology costs will mount up. In contrast, if you install updates and patches regularly throughout the year, it will become a part of your security team's normal, manageable workload so you won't end up paying extra for it.

2) Invest in Security Training for Developers and Staff

Security training is crucial for maintaining PCI compliance. Your development team should receive application security training to educate on secure coding best practices and reduce vulnerabilities from the start. Training staff on general security awareness will also help them understand the importance of being PCI compilant and protecting company data.

Many vulnerabilities that make it into finished applications can be detected and remediated early-on in the development process. Teaching your developers defensive coding will reduce remediation costs – as costs to fix these vulnerabilities becomes substantially higher the longer they are left unfixed.

3) Update Your Knowledge

It's up to you to ensure that your organization remains up-to-date on new vulnerabilities and threats as they emerge, and to incorporate appropriate measures into your secure coding practices. It's also your responsibility to keep up with the changing PCI requirements and security best practices.

This will remove the risk of getting to your PCI compliance assessment and finding out that the standards you've been working towards are six months out of date. The biggest cost relating to PCI compliance is failure – if you fall short of the standards you'll need a reassessment, which usually involves an audit, which will be time-consuming, disruptive, and expensive.

4) Take Advantage of Compliance-Specific Security Courses

Some PCI compliance standards can cause real headaches for organizations. To streamline your compliance assessment, it can be incredibly helpful to send key personnel on PCI compliance training courses – allowing them to understand the ins and outs of the most important compliance risks facing your organization.

This will reduce the risk of you requiring reassessment or a costly audit, and help to foster a security-conscious culture in your organization.