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How physical security can support PCI compliance in higher education institutions




E-commerce and online marketplaces have led to an increase in the adoption of digital payments. Although this relatively new technology is very convenient and beneficial to expand operations and businesses, it has also led to severe security vulnerabilities and new opportunities for cybercriminals to infiltrate card processing systems and act maliciously.

Consequently, and in order to protect cardholder data and safeguard the handling of sensitive payment card information during transactions, the PCI Security Standards Council developed a key set of security principles: the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard or PCI DSS.

PCI provides compliance guidance for any organization — including higher education institutions — that accepts, processes, stores, or transmits payment card information. Failure to comply with PCI standards can result in financial penalties and damage to a college or university’s reputation.

PCI non-compliance

Not fully understanding the risks of non-compliance with PCI DSS inevitably results in fines, fees, and penalties. Nevertheless, the biggest threat for universities is that in the event of a data breach, non-compliant institutions may lose the ability to accept payment cards and face legal action from affected students.

Some of the most common reasons leading to non-compliance are negligence, not training staff adequately, failure to adopt a solid cybersecurity strategy, and not tracking properly the card data journey. Yet, focusing too much on compliance and not enough on physical security can be just as detrimental.

Physical security solutions are essential

PCI DSS compliance involves the adoption of a wide range of security measures, including access control, intrusion detection, and regular monitoring.

Access control

Primarily, it is important to assume a unifying approach across campus, as a fragmented security landscape will cause further vulnerabilities. In addition, considering modern access control solutions, such as mobile credentials and biometric alternatives, can allow higher education facility managers to have full command of who can enter critical departments and restrict access to sensitive payment information.

Intrusion detection

A valuable addition to increasing security levels in specialized areas within the campus is an intrusion detection system, which provides security teams with the necessary data to verify intrusion events and respond to incidents more efficiently. State-of-the-art solutions offer increased visibility and help reduce false alarms when integrated with access control and video surveillance technologies. Moreover, they help colleges and universities meet PCI standards.

Video surveillance

For those departments and facilities that handle payment card information, the implementation of an advanced monitoring solution that provides total coverage is critical. Key features of modern video surveillance functionality include remote access, viewing, and management. Removing the onsite requirement allows higher education administrators and security staff to monitor live video or historical feeds from anywhere, at any time. Smart surveillance solutions also guarantee that notifications are issued as soon as a camera goes down, ensuring the system is always operating as intended.

Since payment card fraud is a growing concern in today’s digital world, higher education institutions must ensure the protection of cardholder data by rigorously adhering to PCI DSS. Access control, intrusion detection, and video surveillance are effective physical security measures that can help colleges and universities avoid data breaches and meet all PCI data security standards.

Achieve PCI compliance 

Discover how our state-of-the-art access control systems, video surveillance, and intrusion detection technologies can fortify your facilities. Strengthen data security, control access to sensitive areas, and monitor activities in real-time.