The PCI Standard is mandated by the card brands and administered by the Payment Card Industry Security Standards Council. The standard was created to increase controls around cardholder data to reduce credit card fraud. Validation of compliance is performed annually or quarterly, either by an external Qualified Security Assessor (QSA) or by a firm specific Internal Security Assessor (ISA) that creates a Report on Compliance for organizations handling large volumes of transactions, or by Self-Assessment Questionnaire (SAQ) for companies handling smaller volumes.[promotional or fringe source?]
Five different programs had been started by card companies:
The intentions of each were roughly similar: to create an additional level of protection for card issuers by ensuring that merchants meet minimum levels of security when they store, process, and transmit cardholder data. To cater out the interoperability problems among the existing standards, the combined effort made by the principal credit card organizations resulted in the release of version 1.0 of PCI DSS in December 2004. PCI DSS has been implemented and followed across the globe.[promotional or fringe source?]
The Payment Card Industry Security Standards Council (PCI SSC) was then formed and these companies aligned their individual policies to create the PCI DSS. MasterCard, American Express, Visa, JCB International and Discover Financial Services established the PCI SSC in September 2006 as an administration/governing entity which mandates the evolution and development of PCI DSS. Independent/private organizations can participate in PCI development after proper registration. Each participating organization joins a particular SIG (Special Interest Group) and contributes to the activities which are mandated by the SIG.[promotional or fringe source?]
The PCI Data Security Standard specifies twelve requirements for compliance, organized into six logically related groups called "control objectives". These six groups are:[promotional or fringe source?]
Each version of PCI DSS has divided these six requirements into a number of sub-requirements differently, but the twelve high-level requirements have not changed since the inception of the standard. Each requirement/sub-requirement is additionally elaborated into three sections.[promotional or fringe source?]
The PCI SSC(Payment Card Industry Security Standards Council) has released several supplemental pieces of information to clarify various requirements. These documents include the following [promotional or fringe source?]
Compliance validation involves the evaluation and confirmation that the security controls & procedures have been properly implemented as per the policies recommended by PCI DSS. In short, the PCI DSS, security validation/testing procedures mutually as compliance validation tool. A PCI DSS assessment has the following entities. [promotional or fringe source?]
A Qualified Security Assessor is an individual bearing a certificate that has been provided by the PCI Security Standards Council. This certified person can audit merchants for Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) compliance. QSAs are the independent groups/entities which have been certified by PCI SSC for compliance confirmation in organization procedures. The confirmation just assigns that a QSA has tended to all the separate prerequisites which are mandatory to do PCI DSS appraisals. [promotional or fringe source?]
An Internal Security Assessor is an individual who has earned a certificate from the PCI Security Standards Company for their sponsoring organization. This certified person has the ability to perform PCI self-assessments for their organization. This ISA program was designed to help Level 2 merchants meet the new Mastercard compliance validation requirements. ISA certification empowers a worker to do an inward appraisal of his/her association and propose security solutions/ controls for the PCI DSS compliance. As the ISAs are upheld by the organization for the PCI SSC affirmation, they are in charge of cooperation and participation with QSAs.[promotional or fringe source?]
A Report on Compliance is a form that has to be filled by all level 1 merchants Visa merchants undergoing a PCI DSS (Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard) audit. The ROC form is used to verify that the merchant being audited is compliant with the PCI DSS standard. ROC confirms that policies, strategies, approaches & workflows are appropriately implemented/developed by the organization for the protection of cardholders against scams/frauds card-based business transactions. A template "ROC Reporting Template" available on PCI SSC site contains detailed guidelines about the ROC. [promotional or fringe source?]
The PCI DSS self-assessment questionnaires (SAQs) are validation tools intended to assist merchants and service providers report the results of their PCI DSS self-assessment.
The Self-Assessment Questionnaire is a set of Questionnaires documents that merchants are required to complete every year and submit to their transaction Bank. Another component of SAQ is Attestation of Compliance (AOC) where each SAQ question is replied based on the internal PCI DSS self-evaluation. Each SAQ question must be replied with yes or no alternative. In the event that a question has the appropriate response "no", at that point the association must highlight its future implementation aspects.[promotional or fringe source?]
There are multiple types of SAQs for different PCI environments, ranging from A to D. It is crucial for merchants to figure out which type of SAQ suits their environment the best before going in to self-assessment.
Although the PCI DSS must be implemented by all entities that process, store or transmit cardholder data, formal validation of PCI DSS compliance is not mandatory for all entities. Currently both Visa and MasterCard require merchants and service providers to be validated according to the PCI DSS. Visa also offers an alternative program called the Technology Innovation Program (TIP) that allows qualified merchants to discontinue the annual PCI DSS validation assessment. These merchants are eligible if they are taking alternative precautions against counterfeit fraud such as the use of EMV or Point to Point Encryption.
Issuing banks are not required to go through PCI DSS validation although they still have to secure the sensitive data in a PCI DSS compliant manner. Acquiring banks are required to comply with PCI DSS as well as to have their compliance validated by means of an audit.
In the event of a security breach, any compromised entity which was not PCI DSS compliant at the time of breach will be subject to additional card scheme penalties, such as fines.
Compliance with PCI DSS is not required by federal law in the United States. However, the laws of some U.S. states either refer to PCI DSS directly, or make equivalent provisions.
In 2007, Minnesota enacted a law prohibiting the retention of some types of payment card data subsequent to 48 hours after authorization of the transaction.
In 2009, Nevada incorporated the standard into state law, requiring compliance of merchants doing business in that state with the current PCI DSS, and shields compliant entities from liability.
In 2010, Washington also incorporated the standard into state law. Unlike Nevada's law, entities are not required to be compliant to PCI DSS, but compliant entities are shielded from liability in the event of a data breach.
In July 2009, the Payment Card Industry Security Standards Council published wireless guidelines for PCI DSS recommending the use of wireless intrusion prevention system (WIPS) to automate wireless scanning for large organizations. Wireless guidelines clearly define how wireless security applies to PCI DSS compliance. The guidelines were updated in August 2011 (Version 2.0).
These guidelines apply to the deployment of wireless LAN (WLAN) in Cardholder Data Environments, also known as CDEs. A CDE is defined as a network environment that stores, processes or transmits credit card data.
PCI DSS wireless guidelines classify CDEs into three scenarios depending on how wireless LANs are deployed.
Key sections of PCI DSS that are relevant for wireless security are classified and defined below.
These secure deployment requirements apply to only those organizations that have a known WLAN AP inside the CDE. The purpose of these requirements is to deploy WLAN APs with proper safeguards.
These minimum scanning requirements apply to all organizations regardless of the type of wireless LAN deployment in the CDE. The purpose of these requirements is to eliminate any rogue or unauthorized WLAN activity inside the CDE.
Under PCI DSS's requirement 3, merchants and financial institutions are implored to protect their clients' sensitive data with strong cryptography. Non compliant solutions will not pass the audit. A typical risk management program can be structured in 3 steps:[promotional or fringe source?]
Continuous monitoring and review are part of the process of reducing PCI DSS cryptography risks. This includes maintenance schedules and predefined escalation and recovery routines when security weaknesses are discovered.
Stephen and Theodora "Cissy" McComb, owners of Cisero's Ristorante and Nightclub in Park City, Utah, were allegedly fined for a breach for which two forensics firms could not find evidence as having occurred:
"The PCI system is less a system for securing customer card data than a system for raking in profits for the card companies via fines and penalties. Visa and MasterCard impose fines on merchants even when there is no fraud loss at all, simply because the fines 'are profitable to them'."
Michael Jones, CIO of Michaels' Stores, testified before a U.S. Congress subcommittee regarding the PCI DSS:
"(...the PCI DSS requirements...) are very expensive to implement, confusing to comply with, and ultimately subjective, both in their interpretation and in their enforcement. It is often stated that there are only twelve 'Requirements' for PCI compliance. In fact there are over 220 sub-requirements; some of which can place an incredible burden on a retailer and many of which are subject to interpretation."
Others have suggested that PCI DSS is a step toward making all businesses pay more attention to IT security, even if minimum standards are not enough to completely eradicate security problems. For example, Bruce Schneier has spoken in favor of PCI DSS:
"Regulation--SOX, HIPAA, GLBA, the credit-card industry's PCI, the various disclosure laws, the European Data Protection Act, whatever--has been the best stick the industry has found to beat companies over the head with. And it works. Regulation forces companies to take security more seriously, and sells more products and services."
PCI Council General Manager Bob Russo's responded to the objections of the National Retail Federation:
"[PCI is a structured] blend...[of] specificity and high-level concepts [that allows] stakeholders the opportunity and flexibility to work with Qualified Security Assessors (QSAs) to determine appropriate security controls within their environment that meet the intent of the PCI standards."
According to Visa Chief Enterprise Risk Officer Ellen Richey (2018):
"...no compromised entity has yet been found to be in compliance with PCI DSS at the time of a breach."
In 2008, a breach of Heartland Payment Systems, an organisation validated as compliant with PCI DSS, resulted in the compromising of one hundred million card numbers. Around this same time Hannaford Brothers and TJX Companies, also validated as PCI DSS compliant, were similarly breached as a result of the alleged coordinated efforts of Albert "Segvec" Gonzalez and two unnamed Russian hackers.
Assessments examine the compliance of merchants and services providers with the PCI DSS at a specific point in time and frequently utilize a sampling methodology to allow compliance to be demonstrated through representative systems and processes. It is the responsibility of the merchant and service provider to achieve, demonstrate, and maintain their compliance at all times both throughout the annual validation/assessment cycle and across all systems and processes in their entirety. Although it could be that a breakdown in merchant and service provider compliance with the written standard was to blame for the breaches, Hannaford Brothers had received its PCI DSS compliance validation one day after it had been made aware of a two-month-long compromise of its internal systems. The failure of this to be identified by the assessor suggests that incompetent verification of compliance undermines the security of the standard.
Other criticism lies in that compliance validation is required only for Level 1-3 merchants and may be optional for Level 4 depending on the card brand and acquirer. Visa's compliance validation details for merchants state that level 4 merchants compliance validation requirements are set by the acquirer, Visa level 4 merchants are "Merchants processing less than 20,000 Visa e-commerce transactions annually and all other merchants processing up to 1 million Visa transactions annually". At the same time over 80% of payment card compromises between 2005 and 2007 affected Level 4 merchants; they handle 32% of transactions.
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