DMARC PCI DSS: Now a Version 4.0 Requirement

dmarc pci dss

Payment Card Industry Data Security Standards (PCI DSS) are crucial regulations that enforce the secure handling of cardholder data for businesses involved in card payments. While email plays a vital role in everyday business operations, it presents unique challenges for organizations adhering to PCI DSS requirements. 

As of March 2025, PCI Data Security Standards version 4.0 will make DMARC implementation compulsory. DMARC is recommended by the PCI SSC as a future-dated requirement and serves as a protective measure against email-based attacks, such as phishing, for organizations.

What is PCI DSS? 

The Payment Card Industry Security Standards Council (PCI SSC) is a global organization responsible for defining and maintaining the PCI Data Security Standards (PCI DSS). PCI DSS applies to businesses that handle cardholder data, aiming to safeguard sensitive information and prevent data breaches. It encompasses measures such as anti-spam, anti-phishing, and encryption to ensure the secure handling of payment data.

The Evolution to PCI DSS Version 4:

The PCI SSC regularly updates the PCI DSS standards to address emerging cybersecurity threats. The latest version, PCI DSS v4, is a community-driven initiative that commenced development in 2017. Extensive feedback and input from participating organizations have shaped its evolution, with over 6,000 feedback instances and 700 survey comments received by the Council.

What is the Significance of Email in PCI DSS Compliance?

Email communication is an integral part of any organization’s daily operations. Email plays a pivotal role in various aspects for companies subject to PCI DSS regulations, including customer interactions, transaction notifications, and internal communications. However, ensuring the security and integrity of email transmissions becomes paramount when sensitive cardholder information is involved.

What are the Key Changes in PCI DSS v4.0?

PCI DSS v4.0 introduces several notable changes to strengthen the security standard:

  • Customized Approach to Cybersecurity:

PCI DSS v4.0 adopts a more tailored approach to address the specific cybersecurity concerns of different organizations. This flexibility ensures that security measures align with individual risk profiles and provide adequate protection.

  • Enhanced Testing Procedures:

The new version introduces enhanced testing procedures to ensure the robustness of security controls. These procedures help organizations identify and address vulnerabilities effectively, reducing the risk of data breaches.

  • Focus on Network Security Controls:

PCI DSS v4.0 places increased emphasis on network security controls. This includes implementing robust segmentation to isolate sensitive cardholder data, reducing the potential impact of a breach.

  • Strong Cryptography for Data Security:

To ensure the security of cardholder data, PCI DSS v4.0 emphasizes the use of strong cryptography. Organizations are encouraged to employ encryption algorithms that align with current industry standards and regularly update cryptographic protocols.

  • Removal of Redundant Requirements:

In an effort to streamline and improve the clarity of the standard, redundant requirements have been removed in PCI DSS v4.0. This reduction helps organizations focus on the essential security measures necessary for compliance.

  • Enforcement of DMARC Deployment:

In PCI DSS v4.0, the deployment of DMARC is now required. DMARC helps prevent email spoofing and strengthens email security, enhancing protection against phishing attacks.

What specific changes and demands are there in PCI DSS v4.0 for email security?

Email Security Requirements in PCI DSS v4.0:

  • Install Strong Access Controls for Email Systems:

PCI DSS v4.0 emphasizes the implementation of robust access controls for email systems. Companies are required to enforce multi-factor authentication, ensuring that multiple verification methods are utilized for user access. Additionally, complex passwords and regular access reviews must be enforced to minimize the risk of unauthorized access to email accounts. These measures significantly reduce the chances of email-related security incidents.

  • Protect Stored Cardholder Data within Email Systems:

To safeguard cardholder data, PCI DSS v4.0 mandates the protection of stored information within email systems. Encryption of stored cardholder data is crucial, as it ensures that it remains secure and unreadable even if unauthorized access to the email system occurs. Proper access controls must also be implemented to restrict access to sensitive information, preventing unauthorized individuals from viewing or tampering with stored cardholder data.

  • Track and Respond to Email-Related Security Alerts:

PCI DSS v4.0 highlights the importance of establishing robust monitoring mechanisms for email-related security alerts. Organizations should implement systems that track and analyze email activities, enabling the timely detection of suspicious behaviors or potential security breaches. Prompt incident response plans must be in place to address any identified threats or incidents effectively. Regular review of system logs for anomalies and suspicious activities contributes to proactive threat mitigation and enhanced email security.

What are the Advantages of DMARC Implementation for PCI DSS Compliance?

  • Phishing and Spoofing Prevention:

DMARC plays a crucial role in mitigating the risks of phishing attacks and email spoofing. By monitoring domain infrastructure through DMARC reports, organizations gain valuable insights into the authentication status of their outgoing emails. This allows for timely detection and resolution of any issues before they escalate into breaches or successful phishing attempts. DMARC records help ensure that only authorized senders can use your domain, reducing the likelihood of fraudulent activities.

  • Improved Email Deliverability:

While not directly related to security, improved email deliverability is an important benefit of DMARC. Implementing DMARC policies align with best practices for email authentication, which can positively impact email deliverability rates. By establishing a reputation as a legitimate sender and protecting against domain spoofing, organizations can avoid email filtering and enhance their overall email deliverability, ensuring important communications reach intended recipients without interference.

  • Strengthening Brand Trust:

DMARC helps protect your organization’s brand reputation by preventing unauthorized senders from using your domain for malicious activities. By enforcing strict email authentication policies, DMARC ensures that recipients can trust emails sent from your domain, increasing confidence in the authenticity and integrity of your communications. Strengthening brand trust builds better relationships with customers, partners, and vendors, enhancing your organization’s credibility and reducing the risk of reputational damage associated with phishing or spoofing incidents.

Summing Up!

In conclusion, the advantages of implementing DMARC for PCI DSS compliance are significant. Partnering with a reliable DMARC service provider like GoDMARC can simplify the implementation process and provide valuable insights through their DMARC statistics

By leveraging the expertise and tools offered by GoDMARC, organizations can enhance their email security, protect cardholder data, and ensure compliance with PCI DSS requirements. 


Q1. What is DMARC, and how does it relate to PCI DSS compliance?

DMARC (Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting, and Conformance) is an email authentication protocol that helps prevent email spoofing and phishing attacks. In PCI DSS Version 4.0, DMARC implementation is now a requirement to enhance email security and protect cardholder data. DMARC helps organizations achieve compliance by ensuring the authenticity of outgoing emails and mitigating the risks associated with unauthorized senders using their domain.

Q2. Why is DMARC important for PCI DSS compliance?

DMARC is important for PCI DSS compliance as it provides an additional layer of email security. By enforcing strict authentication policies, DMARC prevents fraudulent emails and unauthorized use of an organization’s domain. This helps protect sensitive cardholder data, strengthens brand trust, and aligns with PCI DSS requirements for secure email communications.

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