Staying Cyber-Safe This Black Friday: The Importance of PCI Compliance in South Africa

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Staying Cyber-Safe This Black Friday: The Importance of PCI Compliance in South Africa

Black Friday is a retail phenomenon that has taken South Africa by storm, with consumers and retailers alike eagerly awaiting the day to kick off the festive shopping season. However, as transactions soar, so does the risk of cyber threats. Recent research indicates a 17% spike in cyber threats in South Africa during the week leading up to Black Friday. With South Africa ranking among the top five countries affected by cybercrime in 2022, it’s crucial for retailers to be vigilant. One of the most effective ways to safeguard against these threats is through PCI Compliance. In this article, we delve into the rising cyber threats during Black Friday and how PCI Compliance can act as a shield against these vulnerabilities.

The Rising Tide of Cyber Threats in South Africa

South Africa has seen a significant increase in cyber threats, especially during high-traffic retail events like Black Friday. According to DefenceWeb, South Africa was among the top five countries affected by cybercrime in 2022. The week leading up to Black Friday alone saw a 17% spike in cyber threats, as reported by IOL. These aren’t just numbers; they’re a wake-up call for retailers to bolster their cybersecurity measures.

What is PCI Compliance?

Payment Card Industry (PCI) Compliance is a set of technical and operational standards designed to protect credit card data. While not legally mandated, it is considered mandatory through court precedent and is managed by the PCI Security Standards Council. Being PCI compliant not only reduces the risk of data breaches but also protects cardholder data and improves a company’s brand reputation.

The 12 Requirements of PCI Compliance

To combat these risks, adhering to PCI compliance is crucial. The PCI Security Standards Council outlines 12 key requirements, grouped into six categories:

Build and Maintain a Secure Network

Install and maintain a firewall

Change vendor-supplied passwords

Protect Cardholder Data

Protect stored data

Encrypt data across open networks

Maintain a Vulnerability Management Program

Use antivirus software

Develop secure systems

Implement Strong Access Control Measures

Restrict data access by business need-to-know

Assign a unique ID to each person with computer access

Restrict physical access to cardholder data

Regularly Monitor and Test Networks

Track and monitor all access to network resources and cardholder data

Regularly test security systems and processes

Maintain an Information Security Policy

Maintain a policy that addresses information security for all personnel

The Risks of Non-Compliance in South Africa

In South Africa, where cybercrime is already rampant, the risks associated with PCI non-compliance are magnified. The consequences are not just financial but can have a far-reaching impact on a business’s long-term viability. Here are some of the specific risks:

Hefty Fines

South African businesses found to be non-compliant with PCI standards can face substantial fines, which can be particularly crippling for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). These fines can range from thousands to millions of Rand, depending on the severity of the non-compliance and the extent of the data breach.

Reputational Damage

In a country where consumers are becoming increasingly aware of cyber risks, a single data breach can severely tarnish a company’s reputation. South African consumers are likely to switch loyalties to competitors if they feel their data is not secure, leading to a loss of market share.

Increased Transaction Fees

According to Stickman Cyber, non-compliance can result in higher transaction fees. For South African retailers, especially those who see a significant portion of their annual revenue during the Black Friday period, this can be a significant financial burden.

Termination of Card Payment Facilities

In extreme cases, non-compliance can lead to the termination of the ability to accept card payments. Given that card payments are a prevalent method of transaction in South Africa, this can be a death knell for businesses, particularly during high-sales periods like Black Friday.

Legal Consequences

South Africa’s Protection of Personal Information Act (POPIA) also imposes strict regulations on data protection. Non-compliance with PCI standards could also mean that you’re in violation of POPIA, which comes with its own set of penalties and legal ramifications.

Loss of Customer Trust

South African consumers are becoming increasingly savvy about cybersecurity. A breach due to PCI non-compliance can result in a significant loss of customer trust, which can take years to rebuild.

By understanding these risks, South African businesses can better appreciate the importance of PCI compliance, especially as they prepare for the high-stakes sales periods like Black Friday.


Black Friday and the festive season are not just about great deals and high sales; they’re also about providing a secure and seamless shopping experience for your customers. In a country like South Africa, where cyber threats are on the rise, especially during high-sales periods, being PCI compliant is not just an option—it’s a necessity.

Huge Connect empowers your business to thrive during these critical retail periods. Our PCI-compliant, secure, and stable connectivity solutions ensure that you can focus on making sales, while we make sure you are safe and connected to process payments.

By prioritising both sales and security, you’re not just setting your business up for success this Black Friday; you’re building a foundation of trust and reliability that will benefit your business for years to come. Let’s connect, reach out for a solution tailor made to your needs. 

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