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Requirements for a PCI-compliant Web hosting company

Expert Mike Chapple offers insight on how to maintain PCI DSS compliance when outsourcing Web hosting to a PCI-compliant provider.

My company is in the process of selecting a Web hosting company for our website and we're trying to determine how...

PCI DSS should affect our decision. What should we be aware of when looking for a PCI-compliant Web hosting company?

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Presumably the Web hosting company will be involved in processing credit card transactions for the website. If this is the case, they clearly qualify as a service provider under the provisions of PCI DSS, and there are specific contractual obligations that you must follow to ensure that your organization remains PCI DSS compliant.

First, you must have a written agreement with your service provider which acknowledges that it will remain PCI DSS compliant for all interactions with cardholder information performed on behalf of your company. This may be handled by a PCI DSS clause in the contract for services or in a separate written agreement.

Second, clearly identify which elements of PCI DSS are addressed by the service provider and which are addressed by internal controls. This requirement is designed to prevent controls from slipping through the cracks, with each entity believing that compliance is the other entity's responsibility.

Third, annually validate that the service provider is PCI DSS compliant. You may do this by verifying its inclusion on the Visa Global Registry of Service Providers or by requiring the service provider to submit documentation attesting to its compliance.

Finally, you are responsible for maintaining documentation about the relationship with the service provider. This includes keeping a list of service providers that you use, maintaining the list of PCI DSS responsibility divisions and maintaining a formal process for selecting service providers that includes proper due diligence.

This was last published in May 2014

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