January 30, 2009, 12:00 AM

Buying Bandwidth

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Specific PCI requirements apply to hosting companies such as how they manage security patches and anti-virus updates. But all a retailer’s business managers need to know about a web host in this regard is whether it is PCI compliant. Visa maintains a list of PCI-compliant hosting firms on its web site. To be listed, the service provider is required to hire a Visa-approved security company to conduct a yearly on-site audit and quarterly scans of its hosting network.

“If the company hosting your site on is not on that list, you need to find out if they have an audit scheduled or the status of their last audit, and find out why they’re not yet certified,” says Tony Svanascini, CEO of AmericanEagle.com.

Trusted partner

Because a site’s business managers generally delegate technical aspects of web hosting to IT staffers, part of choosing a web host is finding a company that’s trustworthy. One good measure of that is the quality and responsiveness of customer service and how quickly and how well questions-any questions-are handled by the hosting company.

This is something retailers can gauge by talking to other customers of the prospective host. Experts says retailers are best served by choosing a web host that will enable them to call and talk to support staff familiar with their site, to whom the site is more than just a collection of anonymous files on their servers.

‘It’s really just a case of knowing that contractually-as well as by the hosting company being a trusted business partner-these issues are not being overlooked and that they are being handled,” Walker says.


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