When it comes to the PCI Data Security Standards, ensuring your policies, standards, and procedures are captured in a formal document is critical. For many PCI requirements (or “controls”), you must have supporting documentation to be considered in compliance.
However, PCI documentation is often the last thing merchants and service providers want to think about. Even the PCI Security Standards Council has relegated documentation to the sixth and final milestone in the prioritized approach for PCI compliance.
7 Keys to Comprehensive PCI DSS Documentation
So, how do you go about ensuring that your PCI DSS documentation meets the standards outlined in PCI DSS version 3.2? Here are seven keys we share with merchants and managers to help them take a comprehensive approach to PCI documentation:
1. Start small to build documenting into the culture.
Between all the policies, standards, and procedures, PCI documentation can seem like an overwhelming task. The best thing you can do is to start with what you know today and develop processes and systems your team can use to work through the documentation process.
2. Record what you know.
One of the most effective ways to initiate the documentation process is to designate a “documentation week”. During the week (or month if necessary), encourage your team to document every task you perform. Documenting while you’re doing it will make sure none of your current operations slip through the cracks.
3. Be disciplined.
Let’s be honest—PCI documentation can be mind-numbing. The best way to ensure compliance is to be disciplined and assume the proper perspective. Think of documentation as a necessary component of finishing any task, and then move on to other things.
4. Don’t worry about formatting.
When you’re first starting out, don’t get caught up on formatting your plan. That will only prolong the process. Instead, focus on getting all of your policies written out, and worry about formatting later.
5. Designate where and how you’re going to capture documentation.
It doesn't help to have documents scattered all over the network or in team members' personal folders. Instead, create a central repository, and put documents there as they're created.
6. Assign an internal resource to formalize documentation.
Assigning a team member to the responsibility of formalizing documentation not only ensures everything is formalized consistently, but it also ensures the project gets completed.
7. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
PCI documentation can be a long, arduous process. If you’re overwhelmed, don’t feel like you have to go at it alone. Consider finding a tech writer who can help you ensure your documentation is formalized and sufficiently addresses all compliance requirements.
Take the Guesswork (and Hard Work) out of PCI Compliance
Managing the PCI compliance process can be overwhelming. That’s why our team has taken time to create this free guide to PCI Compliance guidelines to help you eliminate the guesswork.
At LBMC Information Security, we’re committed to helping you navigate every requirement. Whether you’re looking for support in the documentation process or for a third-party readiness assessment, our full suite of payments-related data security services can help you achieve compliance today and reduce the risk of non-compliance in the future.