How to Implement the Security Awareness Training for PCI Compliance

Are you worried about your company’s security? Do you understand the value of protecting data about your customers? You should be pleased to know that your employees will learn basic security practices with simple, daily actions, and your business will become more secure.

PCI DSS requirement 12 states that organizations must comply with PCI and have a policy that addresses information security for all employees. All of your staff, including full-time and part-time employees, temporary workers, contractors, and consultants who work on the company’s site or otherwise have access to the cardholder’s data environment, need to understand the importance of data and have a responsibility to protect it.

See Also: PCI DSS Risk Assessment

PCI DSS requirement 12.6 requires that all personnel be conducted from the recruitment phase to other periodic training and protect cardholder data. You should establish a comprehensive security awareness program for employees that requires them to read and understand protection policies, at least annually.

Why should I do a PCI Security Awareness Training?

Security Awareness training is required to comply with Payment Card Industry (PCI) Data Protection Standard (DSS) Requirement 12.6. Security Awareness training necessary for PCI compliance is an initial training for employees with access to card data. It is then an annual exercise to make sure they understand their obligations to protect cardholder data.

The risk of employee cardholder data breaches and what needs to be done to minimize this risk is the subject of a successful PCI Security Awareness Program. Employees remain the primary risk your business processes pose to cardholder data, whether through ignorance or malicious intent.

When your employees are unaware of the risks, your security policies become ineffective. For example, if you suspect a data breach, you should have a policy on what to do. However, suppose your employees are not trained on what to do in a data breach situation. In that case, they will likely make a mistake or waste time by not reporting the breach to the right people, and potentially your company will suffer further harm.

Another challenge is social engineering attacks that quickly become a significant threat to businesses of all types and sizes. The problem with social engineering is that they target employees directly. If your employees are not qualified to understand social engineering techniques, you may be vulnerable to a data breach.

To maintain compliance with PCI DSS, HIPAA, and other industry data security standards, you and your staff must have the necessary data protection knowledge.

Train Your Employees to Reduce Security Risks

Requirement 12.6, as stated by the PCI Council (PCI SSC), is essential because if the personnel is not informed of their security obligations, the security measures and procedures implemented may become ineffective due to errors or deliberate behavior.

Human error is one of the most common causes of violations. Employees can cause data breaches through malicious intent, unintentional mistakes, or victims of social engineering. The most basic way to prevent such data breaches is to educate employees about the current risks.

A significant portion of organizational risk can be attributed to a variety of techniques such as social engineering:

  • Phishing
  • Pretexting
  • Baiting
  • Quid pro quo
  • Tailgating

Training your employees on and after recruitment on a regular basis is essential; otherwise, employees can miss or skip key security procedures and procedures. From the financial officer to the assistant filing your paperwork, everyone in the company can forget what you told them about security best practices.

See Also: Email Security Best Practices

It is also imperative that you get in writing that the security policies and procedures are read and understood by employees. When your employees claim to have read your company’s security policy, they may not have read and understood the policies.

The approval you will receive from employees is intended to ensure that they continue to commit to comply with the policies. Documenting their understanding of the security policy means that they are much more likely to respect and obey the policies.

What Should Be the PCI Security Awareness Training Topics?

It is a positive idea to make a list of policies that employees should be aware of and receive training. Such policies can include:

  • Use of technology
  • Password management
  • Data processing procedures
  • Incident response plans
  • Data security best practices
  • Social engineering techniques

Essentially, if you have a security policy with your employees, all of your employees should be aware.

How is the PCI Security Awareness Training Implemented?

Implementing the PCI Security Awareness Training must be taken seriously because with the Security Awareness Training, your company can achieve lasting success.

When you bring together the first thing you can do, you intend to determine exactly who the security awareness team is. The team responsible for training is responsible for designing, implementing, and managing the security awareness program. It is recommended that this team be made up of different people with different roles.

This way, you can meet the unique needs of each part of the organization. You can define security awareness roles based on role-based job roles in the organization to be trained at appropriate levels. The level of awareness should best be determined according to the risk level of each employee.

Protect Your Information Security Awareness Training

Defining your security awareness system’s metrics is also very important because this way, you have a measurable indication of how successful a system is that can help you improve the program and improve it in the future.

These types of metrics can be issues such as increasing security issues or reducing downtime on the device. You can also use a few metrics to help you get a detailed understanding of how well the software is working.

Below is an additional list from the PCI council on program maintenance:

  • Review the program to ensure employees are aware of the value of data protection for cardholders.
  • Examine processes and documents.
  • Verify that the program provides several ways to communicate awareness and train employees.
  • Verify that staff attends security awareness training after employment and at least annually.
  • Interview selected employees to check that they have completed the awareness training and know the importance of data protection for cardholders.
  • Verify that staff is expected to acknowledge, in writing or electronically, at least annually that they have read and understood the information security policy.

These are not the only things you should consider when putting together the Security Awareness Program. Setting up the right security awareness system for your organization is a complex task that will help you achieve, monitor, and maintain compliance with PCI DSS.

5 Tips to Build a Successful Information Security Awareness Program For PCI Compliance

To successfully implement PCI compliance policies, all employees must be on the same page. It encourages a security-conscious workforce to work together in the event of fraud, data breaches, and job loss to properly train staff on security procedures and reduce internal and external risk.

Employees need to know how to protect the company from cybercrime and understand their actions in case of any breach. Compromising cardholder data must be taken very seriously because it will hurt the customer and affect the institution in terms of reliability and reputation.

Here are a few ways to organize information security awareness training sessions on PCI DSS Compliance:

1. Focus on Internal Security first

Although training plans are made to tackle possible external threats, the risk management department should also design training programs that focus on the company’s internal security policies. Such training programs will represent a list of best practices to ensure that the organization covers all the essential bases.

2. Make sure everyone is on the same page

Letting every employee know about the company’s threats, hurdles, and weaknesses will make a big difference. Employees should be mindful of the consequences when procedures are not followed and what can happen if customer data is unintentionally or intentionally compromised.

Data breaches can cause small businesses to collapse and large companies to lose large capital and credibility. Despite significant top-notch support, preventing data breaches takes time, money, and preparation. You may need to delegate security information to a CISO or an IT team leader or manage responsibility, depending on your organization’s size.

3. Make sure Policies and Procedures are in place

Data security starts with paperwork. The more time you spend and add information to your reports, the better your security culture will be. You should use policies and procedures to demonstrate compliance, train staff, and facilitate daily operations. Provide easy access to secure and verified security details for your employees.

Your policies and procedures should cover topics such as:

  • Firewall rules
  • System hardening standards
  • Data retention policies
  • Password policies

You may also consider the data protection compliance requirements you are expected to comply with, such as PCI DSS, HIPAA, and GDPR.

However, make sure you don’t forget to put it on the shelf after setting the policies and procedures. Consider these papers as an essential part of the office. Include training strategies and methods and schedule for daily updates. Healthy data protection is all about storing it right. Documentation is critical to the process.

4. Make Program and Education Mandatory

Security risks threaten all layers of the organization, including senior management. All personnel, especially those with direct access to a computer, should be trained in data protection protocols. When all are given the same instructions, it is easier to understand where the shortcomings arise.

5. Implement Continuing Education Programs

Employees should go through regular training sessions to ensure they understand the meaning of cybersecurity. As the information technology environment and risks are continually changing, holding regular training sessions will help keep information up-to-date and comply with its expectations.

PCI Security Awareness Training Tips for Employees

Your employees need a regular reminder to make data protection a priority in their daily activities. When they train more often, they will learn more. Here are some ideas you can add to education:

  • Hold monthly training sessions: Focus each month on a specific data protection element such as passwords, social engineering, email phishing.
  • Provide frequent reminders: Reminders can be attached to an email or newsletter containing employee tips.
  • Educate employees on new policies as soon as possible: Newly hired employees should also be trained on security policies as quickly as possible.
  • Make educational materials easily accessible: Intranet platforms are an excellent and easy way to access educational and policy information.
  • Apply incentives: Reward staff for adopting security and being proactive.


It is essential to make sure your employees understand how vital their role in keeping data secure for your company is. Education professionals should be the top priority in the overall policy on data protection. After all, your employees are the bad guys and the people who stand between your data.

Unfortunately, there is no magic solution to close data protection and compliance gaps in your program. Both take time, preparation, and purchasing. It is primarily about developing consistent internal communication and effectively spreading communication within the company to prevent data breaches in businesses.

If you’re in a CIO, IT manager, or non-security position, data protection policies are unclear; the business is at higher risk of a data breach. A successful security awareness program is an excellent way to alert employees of malicious behavior that threatens cyberspace use.

Preparing employees to detect phishing or other forms of cyber fraud means having a detailed training program, procedures, and administrative guidelines to help identify signs of abuse and report suspicious behavior and not become victims of fraudsters.

One of the vital keys to successfully implementing any security awareness program is end-user security awareness training.

Surkay Baykara
Surkay Baykara
A passionate Senior Information Security Consultant working at Cyberwise. Over the past 15+ years my professional career has included several positions beginning as a developer and IT administrator, working my way up to a senior Technical Performance Consultant before joining Biznet back in 2015. I had several different roles at Cyberwise, including Penetration Tester and PCI DSS QSA. In my job as a QSA, I found my passion and worked closely with the Audit and Compliance team. I've been working inside InfoSec for over 15 years, coming from a highly technical background. I have earned several certifications during my professional career including; CEH, CISA, CISSP, and PCI QSA.

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