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Posts Tagged ‘pci security standard’

What You Should Know About PCI Vulnerability Standards

Posted by websiteverification on June 29, 2010

The topic of the PCI Vulnerability Standards has been all over the web over the last few years. By now we all pretty much know that PCI compliance is an obligation for all merchants that accept credit cards. But all the talk about PCI has brought up numerous questions as well.  I put together a list of some frequently asked questions to help everyone with some answers.

What exactly are the PCI Vulnerability Standards? The PCI vulnerability standards, usually referred to as PCI DSS (PCI data security standards), consist of 12 detailed requirements produced by the PCI council.  The PCI council consists of the five major credit card companies. The standards were created for the purpose of bringing forth a unified way for businesses to keep their customer’s private information safe and secure. It was put into place September of 2006.

Do the PCI standards apply to all businesses? Any business that accepts transmits or stores credit card information must meet the specifications of PCI compliance, no matter their size.  To put it more simply, if you accept credit cards at your place of business, then the PCI requirements must be followed.

What if we don’t accept credit cards, but we accept debit cards? PCI compliance still applies here.  The PCI standards must be followed by any organization accepting credit or debit cards, or pre paid cards.  Essentially, if you are accepting any kind of cards branded with a logo from one of the five major credit card companies – American Express, Discover, JCB, MasterCard, or Visa – you must be in compliance.

Where is a complete list of the PCI Vulnerability Standards? Check out the website https://www.pcisecuritystandards.org.

How is PCI scanning related to PCI compliance? According to the PCI council, in order to sustain proper PCI compliance, your business should undergo daily or quarterly PCI scans of your system.  An ASV, approved scanning vendor, should scan your system including things like your website, office internet connections, and more.  Basically anything that is connected to a public IP address.

What happens if I am not in compliance? Outrageous fines as high as $100,000 a month may be charged for violating PCI.  This can becatastrophic, especially to small businesses, so do not take this lightly.

This article may or may not have answered all your PCI related questions.  Above all just remember that the PCI vulnerability standards must be followed and if you still have questions, don’t hesitate to ask. There is a lot of information available and PCI compliance is very important.

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Complying with the PCI Data Security Standards is Too Hard and Too Expensive

Posted by websiteverification on July 22, 2009

We all know by now that PCI compliance is necessary, but that doesn’t mean it’s the easiest thing in the world to accomplish.  Many businesses claim that complying with the PCI Data Security Standard is too hard and too expensive.

Understanding and executing the 12 PCI DSS requirements can seem intimidating, especially for small to medium sized businesses. However, these requirements were developed to help protect businesses from being victims of cardholder theft. Even if there was no requirement for PCI compliance, the practices for security found in these standards are steps that every business would want to take anyways to protect sensitive information. Most aspects of the PCI DSS are already a common practice for businesses who want their sites secure. There are many products and services available to help meet the requirements for security and PCI compliance.

When people say PCI is too hard, sometimes what they may really mean is that complying is expensive. But you should know that the business risks and ultimate costs of non-compliance can greatly exceed the cost of implementing PCI DSS.

Non-compliance can be very expensive if not catastrophic. Non-compliance doesn’t just result in costs associated with fines, credit card replacement and audit fees, but also from loss of business reputation and revenue. In fact a recent study stated that 70 percent of the cost of non-compliance was loss of revenue. This is not only a big deal for big companies that are criticized by the media, but may be truly disastrous for small businesses and the result is putting them out of business.

So, if you are one of those people that have ignored PCI compliance, know that it is not worth it.  Complying with the PCI Data Security Standard is a must!

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The PCI Standards SAQ

Posted by websiteverification on June 1, 2009

While doing my research into the PCI standards I have come across a term quite often; SAQ.  The acronym stands for Self Assessment Questionnaire. The PCI standards Self Assessment Questionnaire is a tool used to assist merchants and service providers in self-evaluating their PCI compliance.

There are five different versions of the PCI standards SAQ in order to meet various scenarios.  The version that your organization will need to complete depends on how your company handles credit card data. For some businesses, the appropriate questionnaire is short and simple, while for others it is long and technical.  But each questionnaire is divided into six sections that focus on a specific are of security. These are:

  1. Maintain a secure network.
  2. Protect cardholder data.
  3. Maintain a vulnerability management program.
  4. Implement strong access control measures.
  5. Regularly monitor and test networks.
  6. Maintain and information security policy.

While completing the SAQ, merchants have to pass each question in order to be considered compliant with the PCI standards. Failing any question means the merchant or service provider is not compliant. The risk(s) identified by the questionnaire must be remedied and the questionnaire retaken.

The SAQ may seem somewhat complicated, but there are many businesses and websites out there that can help you complete it.  Also, depending on your merchant level, the SAQ may not be enough.  You may need to have an onsite audit completed to certify your PCI compliance.  The best thing to do if you are unsure is to check with your acquirer.

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What’s Wrong With The PCI DSS?

Posted by websiteverification on May 14, 2009

There has been a lot of criticism regarding companies following the PCI DSS as there only form of security. While it is important to have other options for security, following the PCI DSS does work!
clipped from www.tripwire.com

There’s nothing wrong with PCI DSS that cannot be cured by following it

I continue to hear comments that PCI DSS doesn’t work and that it should be modified or even eliminated.
find it interesting that so much fault can be leveled at PCI DSS in light of the facts that Verizon Business puts forth in their 2009 Data Breach Investigations Report. Here are some of their findings after investigating data breaches that compromised 285 million records in 2008 alone:
 81% of the victims were not PCI compliant
The last point—81% of the victims were not PCI compliant—speaks volumes about the spirit, intent and effectiveness of PCI DSS …. if it is treated as security best practice and followed on a daily basis rather than treating it as a checklist that must be passed annually. Until each of the above percentages changes dramatically, I think PCI DSS should be seen as a good security best practice to follow continuously.
Posted by Ed Rarick
  blog it

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Are the Websites you Shop on PCI Certified?

Posted by websiteverification on March 31, 2009

You may have heard a lot about PCI compliance, and maybe you have taken all the steps you need to ensure that your business is PCI certified. But, I have a question for you? Are the websites you are shopping on PCI certified? This is something that is important to you as an online shopper, because you want to make sure that your personal information, such as account numbers, etc. is safe and secure. One way that you can be sure, is if the website you are shopping on is PCI certified.

Just to review, what it means to PCI certified is that the website is complying with all the requirements of the PCI DSS (which stands for Payment Card Industry Data Security Standards). These requirements include things such as building and maintaining a secure network, protecting cardholder data, maintaining a vulnerability management program, regularly monitoring and testing networks, and maintaining an information security policy. Also, the website should be carrying out quarterly or daily PCI vulnerability scans. These scans will scan the website on a quarterly or daily basis in order to make sure that there are no threats or vulnerabilities on the website that would cause customer information to become stolen by hackers and online thieves.

You may be wondering how you can tell if a website that you shop on is PCI certified. The easiest way to tell is by looking for trust seals posted on the website. Trust seals are small images, that when clicked on, will confirm that the website has been verified and has conducted PCI scans. It is important to look for trust seals when shopping online, so that you aren’t putting your personal information in on a site that is not safe from online theft.

So when you shop online, be careful. Do your homework and look for those trust seals that are up to date. You want to be sure that the site you are shopping on is verified by a third party, and is following PCI compliance. Don’t let your personal information fall into the hands of the wrong person. Make sure that you are shopping on websites that are PCI certified.

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Vulnerability Assessments?

Posted by websiteverification on March 18, 2009

You may have heard the term “vulnerability assessment, but aren’t quite sure what it means. You are not alone. I ran into this term a few times in my research and wasn’t quite sure what to think, so I decided to find out what exactly a vulnerability assessment is, and how it relates to PCI compliance.

These days, the risk of threats on the internet has become increasingly worrisome. The rising cleverness of intruder attacks using vulnerabilities found in online networks and applications has made it crucial for businesses to assess their network on a regular basis. This is where a vulnerability assessment comes in. A vulnerability assessment works hand in hand with PCI scanning to accurately scan web applications, databases, networks, operating systems and other software to find threats and assess the risk to the business. In a nutshell, running these PCI scans (sometimes referred to as vulnerability scans) help to reveal any areas in your network that are weak or prone to attack. Then you will be able to make any changes needed to your network to ensure that your business and customers are safe.

As with anything, it is important to realize that using vulnerability scanning alone, is not entirely fail-safe. As a business, you can combine the use of vulnerability scanning along with other means of website protection to ensure the security of your business and customers. Also, you should be aware, that not all vulnerability or PCI scanners are the same, so you really should do some research and make sure that you are using an approved scanning vendor (aka ASV), that will do the best job for you.

A company that I have found to be very helpful in all my research is Trust Guard. They offer a lot of information on a vulnerability assessment and vulnerability scanning. Check it out, and ensure that your business is protected.

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The PCI Security Standards Council

Posted by websiteverification on March 10, 2009

I have been talking about the PCI Security Standards a lot in my posts. I have gone into a lot of detail about what the PCI Security Standards are, but I thought it might be helpful to let you know where they come from. In doing all my research one of my main sources has been the PCI Security Standards Council’s website (found at https://www.pcisecuritystandards.org/). They are kind of the main resource and enforcer of PCI compliance and PCI scanning. I thought it might be helpful to everyone to let you know a great place to find out more information about the PCI Security Standards.

The PCI Security Standards Council’s goal is to improve security for payment card accounts by bringing more education and awareness of the PCI Security Standards to merchants and businesses around the world. The PCI Security Standards Council was founded by the five major credit card companies American Express, Discover, JCB International, MasterCard, and Visa.

To give you some idea of how the PCI Security Standards Council runs on a daily basis, I have included some information about the different areas of the council. The PCI Security Standards Council is headed by a policy-setting Executive Committee, consisting of representatives from the five founding payment brands. Operational decisions are made by a Management Committee, as well as from the payment brands. An Advisory Board, drawn from participating organizations, offers input to the organization and feedback on the progress of the PCI Data Security Standards. A Marketing Working Group, Technical Working Group, and a Legal Committee, whose participants are drawn from the payment brands, deal with their respective activities.

So if you are ready to make your business PCI compliant, reading about the PCI Security Standards Council is a great place to start. You can find a lot of great useful resources and information on their site to help you know what you need to do.

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PCI Security Standard

Posted by websiteverification on February 18, 2009

My last few posts have all dealt with PCI, so I hope that you are all not getting bored just yet. It’s just that it is so important, and so I am trying to pass on the information as I find it. The topic I want to discuss in this post is the PCI Security Standard. This may also be referred to as the PCI Data Security Standard or PCI DSS. The PCI Security Standard is the means by which merchants can protect cardholder information. It tackles security technology controls and the processes for protecting cardholder data. As I have mentioned in previous posts, if your business accepts even one card for payment, you must comply with the PCI Security Standard.

The PCI Security Standard is structured by six goals which include 12 requirements. These requirements were listed in one of my previous posts, so I won’t go into a lot of detail about them, other than to mention that these requirements change just a bit depending on your merchant level. The table below offers a definition of the four merchant levels, in case you aren’t sure which level you are, and also describes some of the differences in these PCI Security Standard requirements.

Merchant Levels

Merchant Definitions/Transactions

Onsite Review

Self Assessment

Security Scan

Level 1

More than 6 million

Required

Not required

Required quarterly

Level 2

150K-6 million

Not required

Required annually

Required quarterly

Level 3

20K-150K

Not required

Required annually

Required quarterly

Level 4

Less than 20K

Not required

Required annually

Required quarterly

The PCI Security Standards Council is made up of the five major credit card companies. Their website can be found at https://www.pcisecuritystandards.org. This is a really great resource for any questions you might have. So, don’t wait any longer to get your site PCI compliant.  Check it out and learn more about the PCI Security Standard to have a compliant and trustworthy business.

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