How managed file transfer solutions ensure PCI compliance


iStock_000019121454_Large-2Compliance with regulatory standards for data management can be a difficult task for any organization, but it can be especially hard for stakeholders in vast supply chains. Standards continue to get stricter as legacy iterations are proven ineffective, and for many businesses, maintaining pace, not only with regulatory pressures but with information security, is daunting. Managed file transfer, however, provides the level of system-wide support and proactive protection that companies need to ensure that they will be insulated from compliance-related sanctions.

As more organizations conduct business online and retail shifts to an omni-channel focus, upholding PCI compliance is vital to a company's reputation and bottom line. And more firms than ever are potentially affected by PCI compliance regulations.  For example, as the healthcare industry starts to explore more omni-channel methods as a means of better connecting to and fulfilling customer expectations, many are finding themselves dealing with PCI DSS issues for the first time. For other businesses, the scope of considerations - and potential repercussions - continues to expand.

In a recent Forbes piece, Jeremy Lacy identified some of the many consequences of failing a PCI compliance audit - or worse, to be hit with an information security issue that reveals a major flaw in the system. They range from direct expenses, such as compensation to afflicted parties and bank fines to longer-lasting issues, such as a burnished reputation that must be rebuilt. And as Lacy noted, social media and the demand for transparency in businesses can make it tough to live a compliance failure down. 

"Damage on this scale can never be 'fixed,' as such," Lacy observed. "At best, it can be ameliorated with countless hours of reputation management, marketing and PR."

Putting PCI compliance issues to rest
There are a variety of things that companies can do to limit the risk of noncompliance. It's not as simple as an installation, and problems can't be eliminated forever after they're addressed one time. But taking a step back and maintaining an environment-wide focus can help organizations root out problem areas, and emerging tools can ensure that all information is safeguarded in storage and in transit. 

One good first step, according to Processor Magazine, is to go through the entire computing environment to discover all the ways in which business users process, transfer and store any information that could come under the purview of PCI compliance. From there, the business can focus on bringing consistency to these methods, cutting down on shadow data usage and ensuring that all stakeholders are on the same page. This also gives administrators the opportunity to consolidate the ecosystem, establishing controlled isolation as much as possible and eliminating superfluous connections that could harbor vulnerabilities. Educating employees on the risks involved is also much simpler if the organization has dedicated, consistent methods for storing and sharing information.

How a managed file transfer system helps
Consolidation and education are key to ensuring that businesses will not fall victim to compliance standards missteps, but it's also important to bring their technological profiles up to speed. A managed file transfer solution can provide support for compliance missions across wide, varied supply chains and customer fulfillment processes. A solution such as IBM Sterling Managed File Transfer offers security tools that bring visibility and control to file transmissions of any size.

With proactive monitoring tools and a scalable environment, the IBM Sterling Managed File Transfer system can handle data types of virtually all common formats and of any size, maintaining the integrity of files as they travel between networks. With a clearer picture of the system, organizations can sail through audits and satisfy any regulator's questions. This cuts down on the amount of time and energy an organization needs to devote to compliance, with additional benefits that actually keep the business well-oiled and secure. 

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