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February 24, 2024
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 min read

PCI Compliance Email

Learn about the new technique 'email redaction' to remove sensitive PCI emails and reduce the PCI scope.

PCI Compliance Email
Calendar Icon White
February 24, 2024
Clock Icon
 min read

PCI Compliance Email

Learn about the new technique 'email redaction' to remove sensitive PCI emails and reduce the PCI scope.


  • PCI compliance email refers to securing cardholder data sent via email
  • Email is insecure for transmitting sensitive info like credit card data
  • Encryption is key for PCI compliance in email communications
  • Email redaction is a powerful solution to secure sensitive data without increasing PCI scope

CI compliance email refers to the security measures needed to protect cardholder data when sending it via email. Email is not a secure method for transmitting sensitive information like credit card data, as it can be intercepted and accessed by cybercriminals. To meet PCI standards, email messages containing cardholder data should be end-to-end encrypted. This article provides more information on the vulnerabilities of email communications and offers solutions to ensure email security and PCI compliance. Keep reading to learn about the risks of sending unencrypted data via email and how to secure email communications to meet PCI requirements.

Safeguarding Sensitive Information: The Role of PCI Compliance and Email Security

In the digital era, email has become a staple in our daily communication. However, the transmission of sensitive data such as credit card details or personally identifiable information (PII) via email can pose significant security threats. This not only jeopardizes compliance with the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) but also leaves businesses vulnerable to potential data breaches and financial penalties. This article delves into the challenges of maintaining PCI compliance when using email and outlines best practices for securing email communications.

Email and PCI Compliance: Understanding the Risks

Email, by its very nature, is insecure, making it a risky medium for transmitting confidential information. Each server that an email traverses becomes part of the Cardholder Data Environment (CDE), escalating the risk of interception and unauthorized access to sensitive data. Sending unencrypted credit card information via email places both the sender and the recipient within the scope of PCI compliance, making compliance maintenance exceptionally challenging. PCI DSS Requirement 4.2 explicitly forbids the use of email and end-user messaging technologies for capturing, transmitting, or storing credit card information.

Email containing PCI Card Details

The Role of Encryption and Compliance Partners in PCI Compliance

To comply with PCI requirements for email communications, encryption is key. End-to-end encryption safeguards the privacy and security of email content, thwarting interception or unauthorized access. However, relying solely on email encryption does not guarantee data protection. It is advisable to refrain from using email for sensitive information to maintain PCI compliance.

Collaborating with technology providers can assist businesses in meeting PCI requirements for email communications. These providers offer secure solutions for transmitting private information via secured links, thereby ensuring the protection of sensitive data. For example, Intuit works with SecurityMetrics to help merchants adhere to PCI standards, validating encryption and security controls in their payment card systems. Trustifi also offers email encryption and DLP solutions to ensure PCI compliance, preventing data loss and meeting critical requirements for PCI and GDPR compliance.

Employee Training, Phishing Attacks, and PCI Compliance Levels

Besides encryption, training employees on best practices for handling sensitive information is crucial. Employees should be taught how to safeguard encryption keys and trained to identify and avoid phishing attacks. Phishing attacks are a common tactic employed by cybercriminals to gain unauthorized access to sensitive data. By training employees to recognize and report phishing attempts, businesses can significantly reduce the risk of data breaches and maintain PCI compliance.

It's worth noting that PCI compliance levels are determined by the number of annual credit card transactions. Organizations that violate PCI compliance typically fail to implement required security updates, use weak passwords, have unsecured Wi-Fi networks, lack sufficient access controls, or fail to monitor security events. Violation fines can reach up to $500,000 per incident. To offset these costs and fines, businesses might consider cyber insurance coverage.

The Drawbacks of Email Encryption and the Potential of Data Aliasing

While email encryption can offer enhanced protection for sensitive data, it also has its limitations. Encrypting email communications can place parts of a company's systems within the scope of PCI DSS compliance, making certain email communications more challenging and costly. However, an innovative alternative known as 'email redaction' can secure email-based information without increasing PCI scope.

Email Redaction is a technique that allows for the secure transmission of sensitive data through email exchanges without putting those communications into PCI scope. By using email redaction, sensitive email body and attachments are removed and replaced with an identifier. This ensures that email exchanges remain outside of PCI scope and comply with PCI DSS requirements.

Also PCI-DSS section 3.2 clearly states that the credit card data always needs to be masked or redacted.

Securing Email Communications and Maintaining PCI Compliance with Strac

Maintaining PCI compliance when using email for sensitive information can be a daunting task. However, by implementing email redaction, businesses can bolster their email security and meet PCI requirements. Strac, a leading provider of secure email solutions, offers a range of services to help businesses protect their sensitive data and maintain PCI compliance. By leveraging Strac's expertise and solutions, businesses can ensure the security of their email communications and protect themselves from potential data breaches and financial penalties. Reach out to Strac today to learn more about their secure email solutions and how they can help your business achieve PCI compliance.

For Microsoft Office 365 Email Redaction, please checkout ‎

For Gmail Email Redaction, please checkout ‎

Strac Email Redaction for Office365 and Gmail


FAQ 1: Do I need to worry about PCI compliance?

Yes, you should definitely consider PCI compliance for your business. It's important to ensure the security of card transactions and protect sensitive data. You can reach out to card networks like Visa, Mastercard, or American Express for details on their PCI compliance programs.

FAQ 2: Is it legal to send credit card information via email?

It is generally not recommended to send credit card information via email because email conversations involve multiple parties and are not typically encrypted. When discussing PCI compliance in email conversations, it is generally not recommended to send credit card information via email because of security risks. Also, PCI-DSS section 3.2 states that credit card data always needs to be masked or redacted. So, if email contains body or attachmet that has credit card data, it should be removed or redacted from emails.

FAQ 3: Can you redact email containing PCI data in Microsoft Office 365?

Yes, please checkout

FAQ 4: Can you redact email containing PCI data in Gmail?

Yes, please checkout ‎‎

FAQ 5: Can you scan and redact historical emails containing PCI data?

Yes. For both Microsoft Office365 and Gmail, Strac can go back in time and do historical scanning and redaction of sensitive emails.

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

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