February 28, 2001, 12:00 AM

Visa takes a step to increasing online security

Visa U.S.A. is offering its e-merchants assistance in safeguarding their customers` payment card data.

In a move to bolster the security of online commerce, Visa U.S.A. is offering its e-merchants assistance in safeguarding their customers` payment card data and help them meet a May deadline for compliance with 12 security guidelines. Visa developed these guidelines last fall to protect cardholder data from hackers.

Each of the 12 guidelines, which contain comprehensive specifications, is part of Visa`s Cardholder Information Security Program. The CISP guidelines include required activities such as installing firewalls, keeping security systems up-to-date, encrypting stored data and using anti-virus software. To assist merchants in meeting these requirements, Visa is providing them with training sessions, interactive reviews, compliance and monitoring consultation, and information on third-party firms specializing in testing and compliance.

"Visa`s CISP will have a direct impact on protecting private consumer information," says Bill Ross, director, Technical Security, BarnesandNoble.com. "If merchants apply due diligence to Visa`s program goals, the Internet will become an even safer place to shop than it is today."

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