Author Tim Erlin (VP of Strategy, Tripwire) addresses PCI Data Security Standard 3.2.1 changing to 4.0 in his blog article “Act Now: Leveraging PCI Compliance to Improve Security”. But what does it mean for PCI DSS 4.0 to go to 3.2.1? Will it have an impact on your business or organization? What does any of this stuff mean? Please continue and we will help you to understand the impact for your small business or organization.



PCI is a compliance standard for vendors that accept payment cards. While a simple view of this compliance standard relates to a lower credit card fee from card companies, a larger view is that compliance offers a higher degree of IT security for businesses that handle sensitive financial information. The Payment Card Industry—along with many vendors—realized it was in everyone’s interests to avoid costs associated with financial crime via IT theft or fraud. (We examined several compliance standards in more detail, including PCI DSS, in this blog article.)

PCI DSS 4.0 is essentially shorthand for Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard 4.0. The current standard, 3.2.1, has been in effect since 2018. However, in March 2022, the Payment Card Industry announced the 4.0 standard including, as defined by Wikipedia, “[u]pdated firewall terminology, expansion of Requirement 8 to implement multi-factor authentication (MFA), increased flexibility to demonstrate security, and targeted risk analyses to establish how they operate and manage risk exposure.”

The official retirement of PCI DSS 3.2.1 will occur on March 31, 2024. (You can check out more details regarding PCI DSS 4.0 from the PCI Security Standards Council’s resource page.) So why discuss it now? Preparing for changes like this early not only allows for proper budgeting but increases IT security, even if only incrementally, along the way.


Great! More IT Cost! (Yes, that was sarcastic.)

Increased IT security may indeed come with increased cost. But Erlin’s article describes “compliance as a tool, not a burden”. Indeed, we would urge small business owners and decision makers to consider changes from this (optimistic) angle as well. The idea isn’t to make changes because they are more expensive or inconvenient; rather, the idea is to work together to decrease data risk and lower overall cost—especially those costs sunk into recovering funds or accounting for stolen funds that never get recovered—by making financial information more difficult to steal from the get-go.

Some of the changes include more stringent permissions with regards to roles, higher level multifactor authentication requirements, increased password complexity requirements, and increased guidance/training with regard to IT/cybersecurity.


Where To Start?

An experienced IT team can offer insights to budgeting and project processes during the transition to PCI DSS 4.0. If you need a hand, GIVE US A CALL or CONTACT US! Our team of experts is ready to help you step into a better IT security posture that’s more in line with PCI DSS 4.0!

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