PCI DSS 4.0, short for Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard version 4.0, is the latest iteration of the global security standard designed to protect payment card data and transactions. Developed by the Payment Card Industry Security Standards Council (PCI SSC), PCI DSS 4.0 sets forth the requirements and best practices that organizations must follow to ensure the secure handling, storage, and transmission of payment card information. It introduces updates and enhancements to address evolving cybersecurity threats and challenges.

PCI DSS 4.0 Changes

PCI DSS 4.0 brings several notable changes and updates, which are designed to enhance security practices and address emerging threats. Some of the key changes in PCI DSS 4.0 include:

  • Emphasis on Risk-Based Approach: PCI DSS 4.0 places a stronger emphasis on adopting a risk-based approach to security. It encourages organizations to assess and prioritize security measures based on their specific risks and circumstances.
  • Password Policies: The new version provides more detailed guidance on password policies, including recommendations for stronger authentication methods and the removal of certain password requirements that may not enhance security.
  • Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA): PCI DSS 4.0 acknowledges the importance of MFA as an effective security control. It provides guidance on implementing MFA and improving authentication mechanisms.
  • Sensitive Data Protection: The standard includes updates to requirements related to the protection of sensitive authentication data (SAD) and sensitive cardholder data (SCHD), emphasizing the need for encryption and other security measures.
  • Security Testing: PCI DSS 4.0 introduces new requirements and recommendations for security testing, including penetration testing and vulnerability assessments, to ensure robust security measures.
  • Vendor Risk Management: The standard addresses the importance of vendor risk management, providing guidance on evaluating the security practices of third-party service providers and partners.
  • E-commerce Security: PCI DSS 4.0 includes updated requirements for e-commerce security, reflecting the evolving nature of online transactions and the need for enhanced security controls.
  • Secure Development Practices: The standard promotes secure software development practices, with specific requirements and recommendations for organizations that develop payment applications.
  • Cloud Security: Given the increasing use of cloud services, PCI DSS 4.0 offers guidance on securing payment card data in cloud environments, emphasizing shared responsibility models and control considerations.
  • Remote Access: The standard addresses remote access security, particularly in light of the growth in remote work arrangements, providing recommendations for secure remote connections.
  • Threat Detection and Response: PCI DSS 4.0 recognizes the importance of proactive threat detection and incident response capabilities. It encourages organizations to establish comprehensive threat detection and response procedures.
  • Security Awareness Training: The standard highlights the significance of security awareness training for employees and personnel who handle payment card data, emphasizing the need for ongoing education and awareness programs.

PCI 4.0 Requirements

PCI DSS 4.0 continues to comprise 12 high-level requirements, organized into various control objectives. These requirements form the foundation of the standard and include:

  • Build and Maintain a Secure Network and Systems
  • Protect Cardholder Data
  • Maintain a Vulnerability Management Program
  • Implement Strong Access Control Measures
  • Regularly Monitor and Test Networks
  • Maintain an Information Security Policy

Each requirement is further broken down into specific control objectives and detailed security controls and practices that organizations must implement to achieve compliance.

PCI Compliance 4.0

PCI compliance refers to an organization’s adherence to the requirements and guidelines outlined in PCI DSS. 

Achieving PCI compliance 4.0 involves the following steps:

  • Assessment: Organizations must assess their current security practices, systems, and processes to identify gaps and areas that require improvement to meet the updated requirements of PCI DSS 4.0.
  • Remediation: After identifying gaps, organizations must take corrective actions to remediate vulnerabilities and deficiencies in their security posture.
  • Documentation: PCI compliance also requires comprehensive documentation of security policies, procedures, and controls in alignment with PCI DSS 4.0.
  • Validation: Depending on their transaction volume and risk profile, organizations may be required to undergo an external validation process, such as a Qualified Security Assessor (QSA) assessment or a Self-Assessment Questionnaire (SAQ).
  • Continuous Monitoring: Achieving PCI compliance is an ongoing process. Organizations must continuously monitor their security controls, conduct regular security testing, and stay up-to-date with changes in the threat landscape and PCI DSS requirements.


PCI DSS 4.0 represents the latest evolution of the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard, aimed at enhancing the protection of payment card data and transactions. With its emphasis on a risk-based approach, updated security controls, and guidance on emerging security challenges, PCI DSS 4.0 reflects the evolving nature of cybersecurity threats. Achieving and maintaining PCI compliance 4.0 is essential for organizations that handle payment card data, as it helps ensure the security of sensitive information and maintains trust with customers and stakeholders in an increasingly digital payment landscape.