Compliance with the PCI SSF requirements is critical to securing your payment applications and reducing the chances of sensitive data being exposed to cybercriminals. The controls provided by the PCI SSF are meant to help bolster card payment security. Read on to learn how.
What is PCI SSF?
The Payment Card Industry (PCI) Software Security Framework (SSF) is designed to secure the cardholder data (CHD) processed via payment application software and systems.
In our guide to the PCI PCI software security framework, we’ll dive into:
- An overview of the PCI SSF and its requirements
- Differences between the PCI SSF and the PA-DSS
- Benefits of PCI SSF compliance and potential challenges
- How your organization can comply with the PCI SSF
Working with an experienced PCI SSF compliance partner will help you get started on the journey to strengthening your security controls for card payment transactions.
How PCI SSF Works
The PCI SSF provides organizations that process sensitive PCI data with security requirements that must be followed to secure CHD and sensitive authentication data (SAD).
When these organizations comply with the PCI SSF Requirements, they can:
- Secure end-to-end software used to collect, process, or transmit CHD
- Implement processes to support security controls in software applications
- Safeguard card payment processing that is handled by third parties
To get started with PCI SSF compliance, you must know its requirements and how they apply to your software applications.
The PCI SSF Requirements
The core requirements of the PCI software security framework and their respective control objectives include:
- Minimizing the attack surface for security threats –
- Control Objective 1 – Identify critical software assets
- Control Objective 2 – Secure default configuration parameters
- Control Objective 3 – Minimize sensitive data retention
- Protecting software assets via security controls –
- Control Objective 4 – Protect critical software assets
- Control Objective 5 – Establish authentication and access control mechanisms
- Control Objective 6 – Safeguard sensitive data at rest and in transit
- Control Objective 7 – Leverage cryptography to secure software assets
- Securing software operations –
- Control Objective 8 – Track software activities involving critical assets
- Control Objective 9 – Detect attacks on assets before they occur
- Managing the security of the software lifecycle –
- Control Objective 10 – Identify and manage threats and vulnerabilities
- Control Objective 11 – Guide stakeholders on how to securely operate software
- Protect account data –
- Control Objective A.1 – Limit retention of sensitive authentication data
- Control Objective A.2 – Protect stored cardholder data
PCI SSF compliance will help you stay ahead of common security risks to the software used to handle card payment transactions.
The Difference Between PCI SSF and PA-DSS
Although the PA-DSS helps secure payment application software, the PCI software security framework is more robust in that it provides:
- Controls to improve security implementations
- Standardized processes for developing payment applications
- An independent set of regulations to strengthen data security
According to the PCI SSC, the PCI SSF is also a replacement for the PA-DSS, helping software vendors and users implement stronger security controls for protecting CHD and SAD.
Who Does the PCI SSF Apply To?
The PCI SSF applies, directly or indirectly, to most organizations that handle card payment data via software applications. Whether you are a software developer developing applications for retailers or a vendor selling these software applications, you are likely required to comply with the PCI SSF Requirements in some capacity.
The Benefits of PCI SSF Compliance
PCI SSF compliance is the starting point for implementing sensitive data protections across your payment processing applications. Beyond mitigating the risks of data breaches, PCI SSF compliance will keep your reputation safe and secure trust amongst stakeholders like clients and third parties.
Challenges Organizations May Face with PCI SSF
Compliance with the PCI software security framework is based on objectives, which may not be one-size-fits-all for every organization. The framework’s requirements can be considered recommendations for data security.
As such, some organizations may encounter challenges interpreting the full extent of the PCI SSF controls and applying them broadly or specifically across their software applications.
Ensuring Your PCI SSF Compliance
The first step in becoming compliant with the PCI SSF is to review its requirements with the help of a trusted PCI compliance advisor. Once you have defined the full scope of the PCI SSF relevant to your organization, you should conduct a comprehensive security and risk assessment and remediate any gaps or vulnerabilities you uncover.
Since compliance is a journey, it helps to review changes to your compliance posture as often as is recommended by the PCI PCI software security framework guidelines.
PCI SSF Advisory Services with RSI Security
PCI SSF compliance is critical to mitigating data breach risks from impacting the data you process. As a Qualified Security Assessor (QSA) and an Approved Scanning Vendor (ASV), RSI Security is equipped to help you become and remain compliant with the PCI SSF.
To learn more, contact RSI Security today!
Download Our PCI DSS Checklist
Assess where your organization currently stands with being PCI DSS compliant by completing this checklist. Upon filling out this brief form you will receive the checklist via email.