The 12 Components of PCI DSS Compliance Checklist for 2023


As an IT manager, it is crucial to understand and adhere to the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) if your organization handles payment cards. The PCI DSS applies to any entity that stores, processes, or transmits cardholder data, encompassing both technical and operational system components connected to this data. 

As an IT manager entrusted with safeguarding your organization's data security, your role is pivotal in ensuring PCI DSS compliance. Understanding the ins and outs of PCI compliance is not just about grasping its fundamental concept; it encompasses delving into the specific requirements, the compliance process itself, the extensive list of requirements in PCI DSS, and the necessary steps to meet each one.

While PCI DSS compliance may not be a legal obligation, it carries immense significance as a security standard in the business landscape. Any company involved in credit or debit card transactions must meet its technical and operational requirements. 

Failing to maintain PCI DSS compliance can result in severe financial penalties, reputational loss, and the disastrous consequences of a data breach stemming from noncompliance. Furthermore, complying with PCI DSS is a prerequisite major credit card companies set for processing payment cards, elevating its status to an indispensable business requirement for countless organizations. 

Let’s take a look at the required PCI DSS compliance checklist:

PCI DSS Compliance Checklist

Ensuring PCI DSS compliance is a crucial responsibility to protect your organization's cardholder data from unauthorized access. To help you navigate this complex journey effectively, here is the PCI DSS compliance checklist for 2023:

1. Implement a robust firewall solution & ensure it is properly configured

To protect cardholder data, a strong firewall is needed. Firewalls control traffic flow in and out of networks, acting as defenders between your private network and the internet. They prevent potential hackers from gaining access.

But firewalls aren't limited to external protection alone. They can also serve as an additional layer of defense within your network, encircling databases that hold crucial cardholder information. You establish an indispensable element of comprehensive network security by diligently configuring and maintaining your network firewalls.

Remember, a well-implemented and meticulously maintained firewall is a formidable ally when it comes to safeguarding sensitive data. So, ensure you have one in place to fortify your defenses and keep your cardholder data secure from malicious actors.

2. Customize & strengthen settings beyond the vendor's default configuration

Many vendors provide devices like firewalls and routers with default passwords, usernames, and administration accounts. While these defaults may make installation easier, they are widely known among hacker communities and can be exploited to compromise your systems. Therefore, changing them before integrating the system into your network is imperative.

This practice focuses on hardening your network and making it more challenging for hackers and threat actors to gain unauthorized access. You significantly enhance your network's security posture by adhering to this requirement.

To strengthen your network's security, it is vital to change default passwords in the following areas: operating systems, security software, application and system accounts, point-of-sale (POS) terminals, Simple Network Management Protocol (SNMP) community strings, Wireless Equivalent Privacy (WEP) keys, and Default Service Set Identifier (SSID) passwords. 

Remember, the security of your network is only as strong as its weakest link. Implementing these changes ensures that your systems are better protected against potential cyber threats and unauthorized access.

3. Prioritize the protection of cardholder data 

Safeguarding cardholder data must be a top priority in information security. In the realm of data protection, adopting a layered defense approach is crucial. While hackers may successfully breach networks and gain access to credit card databases, implementing robust encryption protocols for data at rest can render stolen information virtually unreadable.

Encrypting data on company servers adds an extra layer of protection. Even if attackers steal sensitive information, they will encounter significant challenges decrypting it. Encryption mitigates the risk of unauthorized use and safeguards cardholder information by transforming the data into an unintelligible format.

By encrypting cardholder data at rest, you can fortify the organization's data protection strategy, mitigate the risk of data breaches, and uphold compliance with industry standards. This demonstrates a commitment to safeguarding sensitive information, maintaining customer trust, and staying one step ahead of cyber threats.

4. Employ encryption for cardholder data-in-motion

Protecting sensitive information, such as cardholder data, is a top priority for any organization. As an IT manager, you understand the risks associated with data transmission over the public internet. That's why it's crucial to implement robust encryption measures to ensure the security of data in transit.

Data traveling from one location to another is particularly susceptible to theft, especially when it traverses the public internet. Cybercriminals are constantly looking for vulnerabilities to exploit, making it essential to fortify your organization's defenses.

Encrypting cardholder data renders it unreadable to anyone who intercepts it during transit. Whether the data moves between servers within your organization or is transmitted to a mobile application, encryption is a powerful safeguard against unauthorized access.

5. Regularly update and maintain antivirus software

By implementing and following secure practices, you can safeguard sensitive data, protect against malware, and minimize potential risks. Antivirus software plays a critical role in defending your systems against malware attacks. However, it is not sufficient to simply install basic antivirus software and assume your organization is protected. 

To maximize effectiveness, ensure that your antivirus is constantly updated. New malware threats emerge regularly, and antivirus vendors release updates to combat them. You can enhance its ability to detect and neutralize the latest threats by keeping it up to date.

In addition to updating antivirus software, apply regular patches to address vulnerabilities in your systems and applications. Unpatched software can provide entry points for malware attacks. Establish a robust patch management process to ensure timely application of security updates.

Keeping your systems protected from malware and regularly patching vulnerabilities are essential steps towards maintaining a secure IT environment.

6. Establish and adhere to secure systems & applications development practices

To achieve secure systems and applications, it is vital to follow established best practices and industry standards. This includes adopting secure coding practices, employing rigorous testing methodologies, and leveraging secure development frameworks. By implementing these measures, you can create a robust foundation that minimizes the risk of exploitable weaknesses in their software and systems.

However, the journey to secure systems does not end once deployment is complete. Continuous security maintenance is a critical aspect of maintaining a secure environment. As technology evolves, new vulnerabilities and threats emerge, requiring ongoing monitoring, patching, and updates. 

Regular security assessments, vulnerability scans, and penetration testing are essential to promptly identify and remediate potential weaknesses.

7.Enforce need-to-know policies to restrict access to cardholder data

The foundation of need-to-know policies lies in limiting access privileges to only those employees who require such access to perform their job responsibilities. By doing so, you can significantly reduce the likelihood of stolen passwords or unauthorized access, compromising the integrity and confidentiality of cardholder data.

To implement need-to-know policies effectively, consider the following best practices:

  • Regular Access Reviews: Conduct regular reviews of access privileges based on employees' roles and responsibilities to ensure alignment and minimize unauthorized access.

  • Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA): Implement MFA to add an extra layer of security by requiring additional verification factors beyond passwords.

  • Comprehensive Training: Educate employees about the importance of need-to-know policies, the risks of unauthorized data access, and their individual responsibilities in maintaining data security through regular training sessions.

  • Access Monitoring and Auditing: Deploy robust monitoring and auditing systems to track access activities, detect anomalies, and promptly investigate potential security incidents.

By adhering to these best practices, you can effectively implement need-to-know policies, minimize security risks, and safeguard cardholder data within your organization. These proactive measures foster a culture of security, enhance data protection, and contribute to long-term organizational resilience against evolving cyber threats.

8.Implement strong authentication mechanisms for accessing all systems

By assigning each user a unique ID, your IT teams gain the ability to track access attempts and quickly identify any unusual behavior. This level of visibility helps detect potential security breaches or unauthorized access more efficiently. With this information at hand, you can take prompt action to mitigate risks and prevent any potential data breaches or malicious activities.

Consider adopting multi-factor authentication (MFA) to further strengthen your security measures. MFA requires users to provide additional verification steps beyond just a username and password. This extra layer of security significantly reduces the likelihood of unauthorized access, even if login credentials are compromised.

Implementing MFA strengthens your security posture and provides peace of mind to your organization, employees, and customers. It demonstrates your commitment to protecting sensitive data and ensures industry regulations and standards compliance.

8. Secure areas with physical access to critical keys

Securing cardholder data goes beyond network protection. Compliance mandates strict control over physical access to areas where cardholder information is stored physically and digitally. To ensure comprehensive security, it is crucial to implement measures that restrict and monitor entry into these sensitive spaces.

One essential step is the installation of security cameras and other surveillance systems. These tools should be deployed to continuously monitor and record all individuals who access the areas containing cardholder data. Doing so will create a robust deterrent against unauthorized access and provide a means for retrospective investigation if any security incidents occur.

Physical access restrictions serve as an additional layer of defense, preventing unauthorized individuals from physically tampering with or stealing cardholder data. You should collaborate closely with facilities management and other relevant stakeholders to establish stringent access control mechanisms.

9. Maintain continuous monitoring of network access, systems, and cardholder data

Implementing continuous monitoring offers several key benefits. Firstly, it enables proactive threat detection, allowing IT managers to stay one step ahead of potential attackers. Any suspicious activity or unauthorized access attempts can be identified promptly by monitoring access in real-time, enabling swift response and containment.

Secondly, continuous monitoring helps in establishing a baseline of normal network behavior. By constantly analyzing traffic patterns, the system can learn what constitutes typical network activity, thereby making it easier to identify anomalies that may indicate an ongoing security breach.

Moreover, automated systems provide the advantage of scalability. As your network grows, monitoring manually becomes increasingly challenging. However, automated tools can handle large volumes of data, ensuring that no potential threats go unnoticed amidst the vast amount of network traffic.

10. Conduct regular security testing & assessments of systems & processes

You, as an IT manager,  must understand that security plans are not one-time solutions, but dynamic processes. As soon as a plan is deployed, it starts to degrade due to emerging threats, evolving technologies, and changing business requirements. Regular security tests keep you ahead of risks, ensuring systems are up-to-date and fortified against threats.

Comprehensive scans of network defenses are effective for testing security systems. They actively probe infrastructure and systems, identifying weaknesses and vulnerabilities. Regular scans enable you to detect security gaps and take immediate action, reducing the chances of successful attacks and preserving digital asset integrity.

Engaging in third-party penetration testing is also valuable. It simulates real-world attacks, assessing security measures' resilience. Collaboration with experienced professionals uncovers vulnerabilities and provides expert recommendations for system improvements. These tests offer valuable insights, enabling targeted enhancements and ensuring effective security measures.

Regular testing demonstrates proactive security commitment by IT managers. It establishes a continuous feedback loop to identify and address weaknesses promptly. This approach enhances overall security posture, meets compliance requirements, and builds stakeholder trust.

11. Develop and maintain comprehensive information security policies for all personnel

It's important to remember that security is not the sole responsibility of one person or team. Every individual within the organization plays a role in keeping networks and information secure. By establishing clear information security policies and providing regular training, you can ensure that everyone understands their responsibilities.

PCI DSS-compliant organizations develop comprehensive information security policies that define roles and responsibilities. This ensures consistency across departments and levels of the organization, creating a unified front against security threats.

Regular security training is key to maintaining an effective information security framework. Educating employees about best practices, potential threats, and security protocols empowers them to contribute to the organization's overall security posture.

By prioritizing information security policies and training, you cultivate a culture of security within your organization. This proactive approach minimizes the risk of security incidents and protects sensitive data, reducing potential financial loss and reputational damage. 

Adhering to industry standards like PCI DSS meets regulatory requirements and demonstrates your organization's commitment to security to stakeholders and customers.

Ensuring PCI DSS compliance can be a challenging and time-consuming process. With the numerous controls listed in the PCI DSS checklist, implementing and managing them all can become overwhelming while keeping up with your organization's growth. This is where Zluri, the ultimate tool designed to ease your PCI DSS compliance journey can help.

Streamline Your PCI DSS Compliance Journey with Zluri

As the adoption of SaaS continues to grow rapidly, so does the need to grant employees special access privileges. Yet, this convenience comes with a price - the complexity of managing and controlling these privileges, exposing businesses to security risks and compliance hurdles.

To maintain a secure and compliant environment, it is essential to ensure that the right individuals have appropriate permissions. This is where Zluri's IGA solution comes to the rescue. Zluri's IGA platform transforms access management, empowering you to streamline IT audits, adhere to financial standards, and maintain effective control over user access.

A key feature of Zluri's IGA solution is its robust user access review capability. This feature simplifies the process of managing and evaluating user permissions. By leveraging five discovery methods and integrating with over 800 applications, Zluri delivers 100% visibility into your SaaS landscape. This centralized platform reveals all SaaS apps in use, granting your IT teams comprehensive insight into your organization's SaaS ecosystem.

Review access

With this newfound visibility, you can efficiently manage user access across your SaaS stack, promptly handle access requests, and ensure compliance with the necessary financial standards. This ensures that access rights are appropriate and aligned throughout your organization.

In a world where compliance with standards like PCI DSS is of utmost importance, Zluri's IGA solution becomes an invaluable ally. By taking advantage of Zluri's powerful features and gaining complete visibility into your SaaS environment, your teams can seamlessly navigate the complexities of PCI DSS compliance.

Unlock the Power of Unified Access with Zluri's IGA

Managing access privileges and securing sensitive data has become more critical than ever. But fear not, Zluri's IGA is here to revolutionize your access management approach. Say goodbye to the days of grappling with multiple directories and disparate identity repositories. With Zluri, you gain a 360-degree view of your organization's access landscape in a single, intuitive platform.

  • Access Directory: The core of unified access: PCI DSS requires you to restrict access to cardholder data, ensuring that only authorized personnel can access sensitive information. Zluri's access directory acts as the foundation for unified access, capturing and organizing user information from various sources, such as active directory and identity repositories. 

    This feature allows your teams to have a centralized view of user identities and associated access privileges, simplifying the process of managing access rights efficiently.

    For example, an institution uses Zluri's access directory to consolidate user information from different identity repositories. By doing so, the organization gains a comprehensive view of user access privileges across its financial applications. This helps the IT team easily review and manage access rights, ensuring that only authorized employees have access to cardholder data, thus achieving PCI DSS compliance.

  • Empower admins with unprecedented visibility: PCI DSS compliance requires organizations to implement strong access controls and continuously monitor user access to sensitive data. Zluri's unified access empowers administrators with unparalleled visibility into user access privileges across the organization. Admins can quickly identify any potential access discrepancies or suspicious permissions, bolstering the organization's defense against cyber threats and adhering to the principle of least privilege.

    For example, an e-commerce company leverages Zluri's unified access to oversee user access privileges for its online payment processing systems. With heightened visibility, administrators can promptly detect any unusual access patterns or unauthorized attempts, enabling them to take immediate action to protect against security breaches and maintain PCI DSS compliance.

  • Activity & alerts: Stay one step ahead: PCI DSS requires organizations to monitor user activity and respond promptly to security incidents. Zluri's IGA provides real-time tracking of user activity and an alerting system that notifies administrators of any anomalous behavior or unauthorized access attempts. This proactive approach enables organizations to stay one step ahead of potential security risks and take swift action to mitigate threats.

    For example, a healthcare provider utilizes Zlur to monitor user activity within its electronic health records system. If any employee attempts to access patient data without authorization, Zluri's alerting system immediately notifies the IT security team. This allows your team to respond promptly, investigate the incident, and maintain compliance with PCI DSS by safeguarding sensitive patient information.

Automated Reviews: Unleashing the Power of Automation for PCI DSS Compliance

With the power of Zluri's automated reviews, you can significantly enhance their security measures and protect sensitive data with unparalleled efficiency. Zluri's solution goes beyond security and ensures that your organization complies with various regulatory requirements, including PCI DSS. The automated reviews capability provides a powerful solution to fortify access control systems, safeguard sensitive data, and maintain compliance with PCI DSS standards.

  • Access Rules: Ensuring Appropriate Access Privileges

Access rules play a critical role in meeting PCI DSS Requirement 7, which focuses on restricting access to cardholder data. Zluri's platform conducts instant reviews and validations of user access against pre-established criteria, ensuring that users have appropriate access privileges tailored to their job functions. By implementing access rules, you can reduce the risk of unauthorized access to cardholder data, bolstering security and compliance efforts.

Example: A payment processing company utilizes Zluri's automated reviews to enforce access rules for its employees. The platform ensures that employees in the finance department have access to financial applications containing cardholder data, while restricting access for employees in other departments. This meticulous approach helps the company comply with PCI DSS, safeguarding sensitive cardholder data from unauthorized access.

  • Scheduled Certification: Ensuring Up-to-Date Access Rights

Zluri's scheduled certification automates system-generated reviews at regular intervals, ensuring access rights remain up-to-date with the organization's evolving security policies. By streamlining the certification process, you can maintain a consistent and compliant environment, minimizing the risk of data breaches or insider threats arising from outdated access permissions.

Example: A healthcare provider relies on Zluri's scheduled certification to review user access to patient records regularly. The platform automates the certification process, ensuring that access rights are reviewed and updated in accordance with the organization's security policies. This proactive approach helps the provider comply with PCI DSS, protecting sensitive patient data from unauthorized access.

  • Auto Remediation: Strengthening Security Posture

Zluri's auto remediation capabilities align with PCI DSS Requirement 12, which emphasizes maintaining a robust security posture. The platform leverages automated remediation actions to proactively handle potential risks, helping IT teams swiftly respond to security threats. By automating remediation processes, you can reduce the window of vulnerability, prevent security incidents, and optimize resource allocation.

Example: A financial institution employs Zluri's auto remediation to handle potential security risks proactively. If the platform detects unusual user behavior, such as multiple failed login attempts, it triggers an automated response to block the suspicious user. This automated remediation not only enhances security but also ensures the organization meets PCI DSS requirements, safeguarding financial data from potential threats.

With the seamless integration of the mentioned features, Zluri's IGA platform delivers a robust and proactive identity and access management solution. This empowers your teams to strengthen security measures, uphold compliance standards, and protect valuable assets from the ever-evolving landscape of cyber threats.

Wondering how to automate user access reviews? Zluri’s comprehensive ‘Access certification’ module has got you covered: 

  • Step 1: To automate access reviews, access Zluri's main interface and navigate to the "Access certification" module. Within the module, select the option to create a ‘new certification.’

  • Step 2: Assign a name to the certification and designate an owner who will oversee the automated access reviews.

  • Step 3: Choose the preferred method of reviewing user access by exploring the options: Application, Users, and Groups.

  • Step 4: Opt for the "Application" review method if desired and add the relevant application(s) to be audited for users' access. 

    User Access review

  • Step 5: Select a primary reviewer and a fallback reviewer from the dropdown menu for the automated access reviews.

  • Step 6: Select the users to be included in the automated access reviews process and apply data filtering to refine the user selection based on certification requirements.

    User access review

  • Step 7: Proceed to the next step and configure the actions to be performed during the automated access reviews, choosing from the provided dropdown list of actions.

Note: If there are multiple applications to be included in the same certification, repeat the process of adding applications as needed.

user access review
  • Step 8: Specify the start and end dates for the automated access certification process, ensuring they align with recurring or scheduled certifications.

  • Step 9: Save the configuration as a template for future use by clicking on the "Save Template" option.

  • Step 10: Monitor the progress and updates of the automated access review process for the specific certification by regularly checking the "Review Stage" section.

Zluri's IGA solution redefines user access reviewing through its cutting-edge automated review mechanisms and unified access platform. Experience a paradigm shift in your organization's security posture as you minimize data breach risks and effortlessly manage user access privileges. With Zluri's robust features, enjoy 10X faster reviews and a remarkable 70% reduction in effort, freeing up valuable resources to focus on driving growth and fostering innovation.

When it comes to securing your organization's sensitive data, Zluri's IGA solution stands as the ultimate choice. Benefit from streamlined access provisioning, unparalleled visibility, and proactive measures in user access reviewing. With Zluri, you can elevate your security in the ever-evolving digital landscape and focus on driving your business forward with confidence.

So what are you waiting for? Book a demo now to streamline your compliance efforts and ensure a secure and compliant IT environment.


Mastering SaaS Vendor Management: A Comprehensive Guide-2023

Shadow IT in the SaaS World - A Complete Guide

Introducing Zluri's Modern Identity Governance & Administration platform for the cloud-forward world

SaaS Sprawl - The Ultimate Guide

SaaS Operations (SaaS Ops) - The Complete Guide


Mastering SaaS Vendor Management: A Comprehensive Guide-2023

An obese SaaS stack leads to SaaS wastage. It's a disease! It not only causes financial issues but also gives you security and compliance problems. That's why you must keep tight control on your SaaS stack. And it begins with managing your SaaS vendors. 

Shadow IT in the SaaS World - A Complete Guide

In this post, you'll learn about shadow IT due to SaaS apps. You'll also learn the most common types of shadow apps categories, shadow IT risks, and shadow IT benefits.

Introducing Zluri's Modern Identity Governance & Administration platform for the cloud-forward world

Zluri's Modern IGA solution helps companies mitigate security and compliance risks. Govern access to your SaaS for the entire user lifecycle through user provisioning, automated access reviews, and self-service access requests.

SaaS Sprawl - The Ultimate Guide

When an organization has a large number of SaaS applications in its SaaS stack, it gives rise to SaaS Sprawl.

SaaS Operations (SaaS Ops) - The Complete Guide

SaaS operations consist of procuring the right set of SaaS apps, managing access to these apps by users/departments, monitoring their usage, and offboarding them properly when they are no longer needed.

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