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April 2, 2024
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 min read

How to Handle and Share Credit Card Data Securely and Comply with PCI DSS ?

PCI DSS regulates the secure storing and sharing of PCI data . Explore the key ways to handle credit card data in SaaS ,Cloud and Endpoints with DLP solution like Strac.

How to Handle and Share Credit Card Data Securely and Comply with PCI DSS ?
Calendar Icon White
April 2, 2024
Clock Icon
 min read

How to Handle and Share Credit Card Data Securely and Comply with PCI DSS ?

PCI DSS regulates the secure storing and sharing of PCI data . Explore the key ways to handle credit card data in SaaS ,Cloud and Endpoints with DLP solution like Strac.


PCI DSS compliance is critical for securely handling credit card data and other sensitive data, with requirements like encrypted transmissions and strict access controls. Best practices to share credit card numbers securely include 

  • Using HTTPS, SSL/TLS for secure communication
  • Avoiding unencrypted channels like email or SMS
  • Implementing access controls
  • Data masking 
  • Regular audits and vulnerability assessments 
  • Employee education 
  • Continuous monitoring and a robust incident response plan 

With PCI DSS version 4.0 set to come into full effect by March 2024, it's pivotal for organizations handling payment card data to be well-prepared. This new iteration of the standard offers a more flexible, customized approach to security, allowing organizations to adapt to innovative technology and practices while ensuring stringent data protection.

Lapses in PCI compliance can lead to severe consequences. Failure to safeguard sensitive cardholder data can not only result in financial losses but also compromise the privacy and financial well-being of countless individuals. Your choices regarding credit card data can make or break your security posture. 

Enter, a tech ally with an AI-powered tool that's all about finding, sorting, and securing sensitive data, like credit card numbers, wherever they're hiding. In this article, we will explore the intricacies of PCI DSS compliance, best practices for securing credit card transactions, and how's innovative approach can revolutionize how organizations handle and protect this critical information.

Understanding PCI DSS requirements

PCI compliance is a set of standards developed and managed by the PCI Security Standards Council to ensure companies securely handle and store credit card data during card processing transactions. These standards cover technical and operational aspects to safeguard sensitive information provided by cardholders. 

Learn how to find credit card and PCI data in your company's environment, including SaaS apps, Cloud apps, and Endpoint devices.

Key PCI DSS requirements for handling credit card numbers

PCI DSS has 12 key requirements, 78 base requirements, and 400 test procedures to ensure that organizations are PCI compliant.

The 12 requirements are:

1. Set up and manage a firewall setup to safeguard cardholder information

2. Avoid using default settings provided by vendors for system passwords and security parameters

3. Safeguard stored cardholder data

4. Securely encrypt the transmission of cardholder data over public networks

5. Utilize and update anti-virus software consistently 

6. Create and uphold secure systems and applications 

7. Limit access to cardholder data based on business necessity 

8. Provide a unique identification for each individual with computer access 

9. Control physical access to cardholder data 

10. Monitor all network resource access and cardholder data usage 

11. Regularly test security procedures and systems 

12. Implement an information security policy for all staff members

These 12 requirements can be grouped into 6 control objectives to ensure the security of businesses that process credit card transactions. These objectives include 

  1. Building and maintaining a secure network
  2. Protecting cardholder data
  3. Implementing a vulnerability management program
  4. Enforcing strong access control measures
  5. Regularly monitoring and testing networks
  6. Maintaining information security policy

To know more, read PCI DSS 4.0 

Now, let us understand how to share credit card numbers securely using these principles.

How to securely share and store credit card numbers?

Here are 6 best practices for sharing credit card numbers securely:

1. Use encrypted communication channels

Sensitive information, such as credit card numbers, can be intercepted and exploited during transmission. The best way to protect its integrity is through encryption keys. Implement protocols like HTTPS, SSL, or TLS to establish a secure connection between the client and server, keeping data safe from unauthorized parties. 

Avoid sharing credit card numbers through unencrypted or insecure channels such as email or SMS, as cybercriminals can easily access these.

2. Implement access controls

Implement strong access controls for credit card information in our company. This will ensure that only authorized personnel can access sensitive data based on authentication and authorization. This will prevent unauthorized access or accidental leaks of sensitive data. We can use various security methods, such as multi-factor authentication, strong passwords, biometric scans, and role-based access controls. 

For example, in FinTech companies, senior finance personnel may have full access to credit card data, while customer service representatives should only be able to see the last four digits for security purposes.

3. Apply data masking techniques

Data masking is a technique for protecting sensitive data by hiding or altering certain parts without compromising its functionality. This allows the data to be used for necessary business processes, such as customer support or analytics while keeping it secure. One way to implement data masking is by physically and digitally redacting or masking credit card numbers in documents. 

Tools like Strac can automate this process, ensuring that sensitive information is not exposed in shared or stored documents.

4. Adhere to PCI DSS compliance

PCI DSS is a collection of security protocols to ensure that any business handling and storing credit card information maintains a secure environment and stays protected from fraud. This includes conducting regular audits and vulnerability assessments to identify and address potential weaknesses, regularly updating security policies, and conducting annual audits to stay up-to-date with the latest PCI DSS requirements.

5. Educate and train employees

Employees are often the first line of defense against security threats.  With proper training, employees can recognize potential data breaches and know how to handle sensitive data safely. This includes identifying phishing emails, securing their workstations, and processing credit card transactions securely. They should also be trained on best practices for handling and sharing confidential information to prevent security breaches. 

For companies in the FinTech industry, this could involve conducting drills to spot fraudulent transaction requests and other suspicious online activities.

6. Maintain vigilance and respond to incidents

Detecting suspicious activity early on prevents or reduces the impact of security incidents. A well-defined response plan helps promptly and effectively address data breaches related to credit card information. Use security information and event management (SIEM) systems to monitor abnormal behavior, establish a clear incident response protocol, contain breaches, evaluate consequences, inform affected parties, and take steps to avoid similar incidents in the future. 

For example, a health tech company must be vigilant in detecting irregular access patterns to patient billing data and quickly respond to identified risks.

Further reading: Why redacting credit card data is necessary for PCI 

Strac's approach to storing credit card information

Strac Saas DLP & and Endpoint DLP protect businesses by discovering (scanning), classifying, and remediating sensitive data like SSN, driver license, credit cards, bank numbers, IP (confidential data), etc. across all communication channels like O365, Slack, GWorkspace (Gmail, Google Drive), email, One Drive, Sharepoint, Jira, Zendesk, Salesforce, etc. and also endpoints like Mac, Windows. Strac offers advanced redaction capabilities beyond flagging sensitive data, eliminating the risk of unintentional data exposure.

Let’s understand how Strac's DLP can help you with PCI DSS:

  • Discover and catalog cardholder data: At the heart of PCI DSS compliance is knowing where cardholder data resides. Strac's automated scanning capabilities delve deep into a business's digital assets, ensuring that every piece of sensitive data is identified and cataloged.
  • Ensure safe data transmission: Data moving across various channels carries a constant risk of being intercepted during transit. Strac monitors all data transfers, encrypting sensitive information and ensuring it remains inaccessible even if intercepted.
  • Granular access control: Not everyone in an organization needs access to cardholder data. Strac allows businesses to set up intricate access controls, ensuring only authorized personnel can access sensitive data.
  • Real-time monitoring and reporting: Compliance isn't a one-off task. It requires continuous monitoring. Strac's real-time monitoring ensures that any unauthorized access or data movement is instantly flagged and stakeholders are alerted. This not only aids in rapid incident response but also provides valuable data for compliance audits.
  • Protection of stored cardholder data: Data at rest is as vulnerable as data in transit. Strac's content discovery tools scan every nook and cranny of a business's digital infrastructure, identifying where sensitive data is stored. Once identified, businesses can apply encryption and access controls to ensure that the data remains impervious to breaches.
  • Redact cardholder data: Section 3.2 of PCI-DSS explicitly states that credit card information must always be masked or redacted. This implies that even if you don't directly store credit card details (perhaps you utilize a third-party processor like Stripe), you're still accountable for PCI Compliance. Essentially, if your business interacts with credit card data or stores sensitive information, you must ensure its security through all your operational tools and procedures. 
  • Encryption of data during transmission: As data moves across public networks, it's exposed to many potential threats. Strac's DLP tools identify any unencrypted data being transmitted and can encrypt it in real time. This ensures that even if the data is intercepted, it remains undecipherable to unauthorized entities.
  • Access control and monitoring: One fundamental tenet of PCI DSS compliance is restricting access to cardholder data based on business needs. Strac's DLP tools allow businesses to set up detailed access controls, ensuring that only those who need to access the data can do so. Additionally, every access attempt, whether successful or not, is logged, providing a clear audit trail.
  • Ongoing compliance efforts: PCI DSS compliance is an ongoing effort. Strac's DLP tools offer continuous monitoring capabilities, ensuring that businesses remain compliant. Whether it's a new piece of cardholder data entering the system or an unauthorized access attempt, Strac's DLP is always vigilant, ensuring that businesses remain compliant.

Do's and Don'ts in Handling, Sharing and Storing Credit Card Data in SaaS ,Cloud and Endpoints


  • Assess the need: Determine if it is necessary to store credit card information, especially for not-so-frequent transactions. 
  • Familiarize with PCI regulations: Learn about PCI compliance to avoid penalties and ensure security at all sites.
  • Ensure safe handling: Use secure storage systems and payment gateways for transactions and avoid writing down or sending credit card details via email. 
  • Opt for secure payment methods: Collect card information through dedicated, secure fields rather than regular text inputs. 
  • Establish a robust PCI framework: Adhere to a structured approach of programs, policies, and procedures to manage PCI responsibilities effectively. 
  • Seek customer consent: Secure a signed agreement from customers before storing credit card data. 
  • Stay updated regularly: Keep hardware and software up-to-date to safeguard against security risks. 
  • Be cautious with remote access: Exercise care when accessing company systems from less secure networks such as home Wi-Fi connections.
  • Opt for a compliance partner: Collaborate with DLP companies that uphold strict security standards and maintain PCI compliance, like Strac.


  • Do not use informal storage: Never store credit card information in systems or methods that do not comply with industry standards.
  • Do not use unsecure communication channels: Avoid sharing credit card information through emails or unencrypted platforms.
  • Do not neglect security protocols: Take necessary measures, especially in environments with multiple users or remote access.
  • Do not forget physical security: If there are physical copies of credit card information, securely store any physical information and control access to it.
  • Do not neglect employee education: Consistently train employees on the significance of data security and the specific steps to avoid data breaches.

Founder, Strac. ex-Amazon Payments Infrastructure (Widget, API, Security) Builder for 11 years.

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