What You Need to Know About PCI Compliant Hosting

What Does PCI Compliant Hosting Mean?

PCI compliant hosting is a hosting service designed to help merchants comply with the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) established by credit card companies. Hosting services designated as PCI compliant are deemed to have met PCI standards under a PCI compliance audit or other assessment.

In general, merchants who accept credit cards must follow the PCI DSS guidelines by credit card issuers. Merchants are audited for compliance in some circumstances, and auditors examine all elements of IT operations to ensure that cardholder data is treated securely, including transmission, processing, and storage.

See Also: PCI Compliant Data Center Requirements

New hosting services, such as PCI DSS compliant cloud provider services, may identify themselves as PCI compliant. Customers should ask hosting companies to provide proof of PCI compliance so they can help pass any audits.

PCI-compliant hosting generally creates a secure environment for cardholder information. It also creates a secure connection from the consumer’s browser to the company’s Web server and cloud, or wherever cardholder information goes.

Does Your Business Need PCI Compliant Hosting?

The Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard – PCI DSS establishes minimal security requirements for merchants, hosting providers, and other organizations storing, handling, or transferring credit card information.

If your company accepts credit card payments, it must ensure that its infrastructure and software conform with PCI DSS and meet PCI DSS criteria. Even if your company employs a third-party payment processor, PCI DSS compliance is required. Organizations that accept credit card payments but do not meet PCI compliance risk being banned or punished monthly until they comply.

What is a Shared Hosting Provider?

The purpose of PCI DSS Requirement 2.6 is to safeguard hosting environments. When several customers’ data is stored on the same server, the server’s security is frequently jeopardized.

For example, one client may create insecure functionality, but because the data is under the control of a single environment, other clients’ data may also be compromised. Therefore, PCI DSS Requirement 2.6 requires shared hosting providers to protect the cardholder data of each entity’s hosted environment.

PCI DSS requirement 2.6 specifies that shared hosting providers must protect each entity’s hosted environment and cardholder data. Shared hosting providers must also adhere to the PCI DSS standard’s additional criteria specified in Appendix A1: Additional PCI DSS Requirements for Shared Hosting Providers.

See Also: Data Center Audit Checklist

When we look at PCI DSS Requirement 2.6, we see that it has two parts. First, you need to determine whether your organization is a service provider. So you can decide later whether you are a shared hosting provider or not.

If your organization enables third parties dealing with cardholder data, or if your organization interacts with cardholder data in an individual capacity, or if your organization can alter cardholder data security, you are considered a service provider.

Suppose your organization hosts applications, websites, or anything on behalf of a third party, and your organization has multiple customers on the same platform. In that case, this determines that you are a shared hosting provider.

Therefore, PCI DSS Requirement 2.6 is designed for hosting providers providing shared hosting environments for multiple clients on the same server.

Annex A1: Additional PCI DSS Requirements for Shared Hosting Providers are also covered in PCI DSS Requirement 2.6. Appendix A1 applies to you if your company is a shared hosting provider. To ensure that hosted environments and cardholder data are adequately protected, follow the procedures indicated in Appendix A1.

If you’re unsure whether you’re a shared hosting provider, speak with your PCI QSA, who can walk you through the process of determining your classification.

What are the Responsibilities in PCI Compliant Hosting?

Many businesses that must comply with PCI DSS do not have the expertise to ensure compliance themselves. It can also be costly to build compatible systems from scratch.

Third-party PCI-compliant co-hosting providers have the expertise and infrastructure to help businesses achieve PCI compliance more efficiently and cost-effectively. PCI compliant hosting means that physical security of data centers and networks, network security, and many aspects of server security are all considered.

Although PCI-compliant server hosting is used mainly by e-commerce enterprises, it is also a significant offering for other organizations. A PCI-compliant hosting platform can benefit any firm that stores, processes, or transmits credit card numbers and related data, including SaaS platforms and other hosting businesses specializing in delivering PCI-compliant e-commerce services embedded into servers.

It is essential to understand that PCI DSS compliance is a shared responsibility. A PCI Compliant hosting provider can help your business adapt quickly and at a much lower cost but cannot guarantee PCI compliance.

Many of the criteria, such as maintaining an information security policy and issuing unique IDs to users, are the responsibility of individual merchants, not the PCI-compliant hosting provider.

How do you pick a PCI-compliant hosting provider?

Finding PCI-compliant hosting might be challenging for enterprises. Many server hosting firms are hesitant to guarantee that their services comply with the PCI DSS.

Member merchants are responsible for processing credit card information securely and by standards. In addition to complying with them, they must ensure that the third-party services they use are also compatible. After all, the vendor, not the third-party hosting, will be fined for incompatibility and security leaks.

Resellers should look for co-hosting providers with experience in managing servers securely instead of shared hosting providers. After you identify a potential hosting provider, you need to consider the following questions:

  • What steps is the hosting company taking to ensure PCI compliance? A seasoned hosting company will gladly walk you through the physical, network, and data security configurations.
  • What are the responsibilities of the merchant and the hosting provider? Managed services and additional security features may be available from hosting providers, allowing retailers to adjust more swiftly.
  • Can the host provide third-party certification for PCI DSS compliance?

Once you’re sure the hosting provider can help your business stay compliant, look at other hosting services’ features. Pay special attention to server and network performance, managed services, and quality of support.

Your hosting provider’s support is essential because if your business fails the Quarterly Network Scan, you want to make sure your hosting provider will respond to issues promptly.

Merchants are responsible for ensuring that credit card data is processed under PCI DSS. Building secure infrastructure on-premises is expensive and complex. PCI-compliant hosting provides a low-cost and low-complexity alternative.

With PCI-compliant hosting, your e-commerce store, SaaS application, or mobile app backend becomes PCI compliant more reliably with the help of a specialist hosting provider than if you did it alone.

Surkay Baykarahttps://www.pcidssguide.com
A passionate Senior Information Security Consultant working at Cyberwise. Over the past 15+ years my professional career has included several positions beginning as a developer and IT administrator, working my way up to a senior Technical Performance Consultant before joining Biznet back in 2015. I had several different roles at Cyberwise, including Penetration Tester and PCI DSS QSA. In my job as a QSA, I found my passion and worked closely with the Audit and Compliance team. I've been working inside InfoSec for over 15 years, coming from a highly technical background. I have earned several certifications during my professional career including; CEH, CISA, CISSP, and PCI QSA.

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