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Protraction, Complacency And Ignorance: PCI DSS Compliance In Disarray Amongst UK Contact Centres

Survey marks the launch of PCI TeleSafe, a ground breaking telephony solution to help contact centres comply with the standard

20 December, 2010 - New research from Connected World, leading provider of communication solutions for businesses today reveals that despite 36.7% of contact centres judging themselves to be fully compliant with the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS), the vast majority (89%) admitted to not understanding its requirements and penalties.

Compounding further concern and reflecting a high level of disarray in the market, a third of all contact centre respondents (33%) claimed at best to be years away from full PCI DSS compliance, with a fifth (21%) stating that their processes will never be in full accordance with the standard's stringent requirements.

The survey of more of than 200 contact centre decision makers spanning a range of industries from retail and leisure to public service and finance was commissioned to mark the launch of Connected World's PCI TeleSafe solution, a network based telephony solution that protects customers account data at the point of payment and resolves a host of PCI DSS compliance headaches faced by contact centres today.

PCI DSS Requirements for telephony payments are stringent and regarded as one of the most challenging aspects for contact centres to comply with. More than a quarter of survey respondents (28%) said they had some safeguards in place to protect sensitive data but felt they would benefit from tighter security measures to better protect their customers.

However, the overall PCI DSS message of compliance appears to be getting through, but only to a limited section of the market. Of those that were aware of the term, only 41% stated that compliance with the PCI DSS standard was crucial to the future of their business. The remaining 59% describing compliance with the standard as "not a top priority" or "something we need to find out about".

"We've been amazed by the level of confusion in the market, especially given the fines that card issuers can impose if they find a vendor to be in breach of the standard's requirements." comments Jamie Price, Director, Connected World. "Contact centres urgently need to attend to their processes, or they could be held accountable for security breaches and fraud that would otherwise by covered by the card issuer."

On a wider level, the survey revealed a clear need to heighten awareness as well as adjust processes and tools in use in day to day operations. In order for PCI DSS compliance to be fully achieved in a contact centre, many levels within the organisation need to be engaged in the process, from staff training to telecoms security. Despite this, more than 74% of respondents admitted that the issues are not clearly understood across their organisation and just 11% respondents said they fully understood what the standard demands and the consequences of not conforming.

Nevertheless, it seems confidence in current data security measures is high. 68% respondents stated that they were confident that they were processing telephony payments securely despite not fully understanding the PCI DSS requirements, suggesting a level of indifference to the standard in the industry and a marked belief that contact centres are already doing enough to protect customer data.

"Now is not the time for contact centres to bury their heads in the sand," adds Price. "The standard is complicated and full compliance isn't easy to achieve. Whatever you think about the standard, it won't change the fact that your business is at risk if you fail an assessment. Moreover, call centres that operate on behalf of customer organisations could suffer severely should they be exposed as non-compliant.

Connected World's network-based solution, PCI TeleSafe, enables contact centre customers paying over the phone to make their purchase without exposing their card details to the call centre operative they are talking to, and without having their call diverted to a secure third party. The customer enters their personal card data using their phone keypad, keytones are masked on the phone and the data is securely captured by the system but is hidden on the operator's screen as asterisks. The end result is a telephony payment process which answers a number of the standard's requirements, including "restricting physical access to cardholder data", and "encrypting submission of card holder data" (Requirements 4 and 9 of PCI DSS, respectively).

Overall, when questioned, more than a third of respondents cited "the fear factor" - namely an increase in either the chances of being spot-assessed by the Security Standards Council or an increase in penalties - as their primary motivation for striving for full compliance. The remainder indicated that the resultant gains in customer trust would sway them the most.

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About PCI DSS
The PCI DSS, a set of comprehensive requirements for enhancing payment account data security, was developed by the founding payment brands of the PCI Security Standards Council, including American Express, Discover Financial Services, JCB International, MasterCard Worldwide and Visa Inc. Inc. International, to help facilitate the broad adoption of consistent data security measures on a global basis.

The PCI DSS is a multifaceted security standard that includes requirements for security management, policies, procedures, network architecture, software design and other critical protective measures. This comprehensive standard is intended to help organizations proactively protect customer account data.

For more information please consult: www.pcisecuritystandards.org

About Connected World
Launched in 2007 under the TalkTalk Enterprise brand and in partnership with Carphone Warehouse, Connected World are specialist providers of inbound call handling solutions, providing network and cloud-based automated technology for call handling & workforce management. Based in Warrington, Cheshire, Connected World provide bespoke services to a wide variety of organisations across the UK, including call centre operators, premier league football clubs, hoteliers, groups within the NHS and other areas of the public sector.

For more information about, or to see a video presentation on TeleSafe, visit www.connectedworld.co.uk, or see TeleSafe Video Overview

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