Compliance with the PCI DSS Requirements is critical to securing card payment transactions and safeguarding the sensitivity of cardholder data. Per the PCI physical security requirements, organizations that process cardholder data must secure all physical access to the cardholder data to minimize unauthorized access and mitigate data breaches. Read on to learn more.
PCI Physical Security Requirements for Securing Cardholder Data
Any gaps in your Payment Card Industry (PCI) physical security create exploitable vulnerabilities for cybercriminals to access sensitive cardholder data (CHD). Compliance with the PCI physical security requirements will help you stay ahead of data breach attempts and bolster your physical access controls.
Our guide to the PCI physical security requirements will help you understand:
- The considerations for implementing PCI physical security requirements
- Recommended controls to secure physical access to cardholder data environments
- Safeguards for handling media and the devices that process cardholder data
Working with a PCI compliance partner will help optimize the PCI DSS physical security requirements for your organization’s unique infrastructure.
Breakdown of the PCI DSS Requirements
As of March 2022, the PCI Security Standards Council (SSC) released a DSS update to help organizations strengthen the security of card transactions and CHD environments (CDE).
The PCI Data Security Standards (DSS) v4.0 comprises 12 Requirements, distributed across six categories. The following is how these are broken down in the DSS, verbatim:
- Build and Maintain a Secure Network and Systems
- Requirement 1 – Install and Maintain Network Security Controls
- Requirement 2 – Apply Secure Configurations to all System Components
- Protect Account Data
- Requirement 3 – Protect stored account data
- Requirement 4 – Protect Cardholder Data with Strong Cryptography During Transmission Over Open, Public Networks
- Maintain a Vulnerability Management Program
- Requirement 5 – Protect All Systems and Networks from Malicious Software
- Requirement 6 – Develop and Maintain Secure Systems and Software
- Implement Strong Access Control Measures
- Requirement 7 – Restrict Access to System Components and Cardholder Data by Business Need to Know
- Requirement 8 – Identify Users and Authenticate Access to System Components
- Requirement 9 – Restrict Physical Access to Cardholder Data
- Regularly Monitor and Test Networks
- Requirement 10 – Log and Monitor All Access to System Components and Cardholder Data
- Requirement 11 – Test Security of Systems and Networks Regularly
- Maintain an Information Security Policy
- Requirement 12 – Support Information Security with Organizational Policies and Programs
The PCI physical security requirements are addressed in Requirement 9 of the PCI DSS, which mandates organizations implement controls to restrict and secure physical access to CHD. Full implementation of the DSS Requirements will help you safeguard CHD at rest and in transit.
How to Effectively Comply with PCI Physical Security Requirements
To meet the standards of PCI compliance Requirement 9 (physical access), you must, first, understand which processes and mechanisms are critical to achieving a high level of physical security. The PCI physical security requirements recommend organizations develop security policies and procedures to guide security implementations. To ensure effective PCI physical security compliance, organizations must also define all relevant roles and responsibilities, as described in PCI DSS Requirement 9.
PCI Physical Security Policies and Procedures
Developing relevant security policies will help you manage all aspects of PCI DSS compliance specific to your needs. When developing security policies and procedures to address the PCI physical security requirements, you must ensure:
- Proper documentation of the policies to include:
- Expectations for PCI physical security implementations
- Controls required to meet the PCI DSS physical security requirements
- Oversight mechanisms for PCI physical security compliance implementations
- Routine updates to reflect changes in the:
- Processes used to secure physical locations of CHD
- Technologies used to collect, process, or transmit CHD
- Business objectives that relate to PCI physical security
- Consistent implementation of the recommended PCI physical security controls, enforced by established oversight mechanisms
- Distribution of the policies to necessary and relevant stakeholders, including:
- Third-party vendors
- Stakeholders’ understanding of how to implement the activities described in the PCI physical security policies and procedures
PCI physical security policies and procedures are only effective if they align with your organization-specific objectives and those listed in the PCI physical security requirements.
Roles and Responsibilities for PCI Physical Security
For PCI physical security policies and procedures to operate smoothly, stakeholders must understand their roles and responsibilities in securing physical CDE.
The PCI DSS physical security requirements for managing roles and responsibilities include:
- Documentation of roles and responsibilities to:
- Increase awareness of critical day-to-day activities in securing CHD
- Minimize lapses in implementing essential security processes
- Assignment of roles and responsibilities to personnel
- A clear understanding of expectations around PCI physical security
- The use of accountability measures such as a responsibility assignment matrix
Proper management of the roles and responsibilities essential to physical CDE security will help strengthen your short- and long-term PCI physical security posture.
Recommended PCI Physical Security Controls
The PCI physical security requirements mandate organizations to secure facilities and systems containing CHD via physical security controls, spelled out in the following sub-requirements:
Physical Access Controls
The physical access controls stipulated in PCI DSS Requirement 9 include:
- Monitoring controls – Sensitive areas of CDE should be continuously monitored using video cameras of robust physical access controls, ensuring:
- Monitoring of entry and exit points to sensitive CDE
- Tamper proofing of monitoring tools
- Collection and review of monitoring data
- Storing of collected data for at least three months, except when legally prohibited
- Restrictive controls – The use of publicly accessible physical network connections should be restricted to ensure that unauthorized devices do not access networks containing CDE. Physical access should be restricted to access points such as:
- Wireless access points
- Telecommunication lines
- Network hardware
- Physical controls – Any physical consoles used to process CHD must be securely stored or locked, especially when located in sensitive CHD environments.
Beyond the above controls, physical access to CDE must be managed, especially for personnel and visitors.
Management of PCI Physical Access Controls for Personnel and Visitors
The PCI DSS physical security requirements for managing access controls include:
- Access to CDE by personnel should be managed and authorized, ensuring:
- Personnel are identified prior to gaining access
- Changes to personnel access requirements are securely managed
- Access privileges are removed when necessary
- Identification and authentication processes are limited to authorized personnel
- Visitor access to CDE should be managed by:
- Authorizing visitor identification and entry
- Escorting visitors at all times within CDE
- Validating visitor identification via distinctive badges
- Visitor badges must be returned and deactivated at the end of a visit
- Logs must be maintained to track visitor access to sensitive CDE
Implementing the controls and procedures stipulated in the PCI physical security requirements will help secure traffic into and out of CDE and mitigate access control vulnerabilities.
PCI Physical Security Safeguards for Media and Devices
Per the PCI physical security requirements, any devices and media used to process CHD must be secured to minimize the risk of data breaches via the following sub-requirements:
Physical Safeguards for Media
Media containing CHD must be secured during storage and distribution up until it is destroyed.
The PCI physical security requirements for media containing CHD include:
- Secure storage of all forms of media such as offline backups
- Media storage is classified by sensitivity and secured accordingly
- Any media containing CHD is secured during transit
- Oversight should be exercised for any media transit outside of a secure facility
- Logs tracking access to media containing CHD must be actively maintained
Implementing PCI physical security safeguards will help secure CHD throughout processing.
PCI Physical Safeguards for Devices
To secure the devices used to collect or process CHD, the PCI DSS recommends several PCI physical security requirements for safeguarding point-of-interaction (POI) devices:
- Tamper proofing devices will mitigate unauthorized physical access
- POI devices should also be regularly inventoried to swiftly identify gaps in security
- Devices should be inspected periodically to identify any malicious activity
- Personnel should be trained on how to identify potential physical access vulnerabilities involving POI devices
Compliance with the PCI physical security requirements is critical to maintaining secure CDE when using media and devices to process CHD.
Optimize Your PCI Physical Security
Securing physical access to sensitive CHD environments can be achieved via compliance with the PCI physical security requirements. Your PCI physical security compliance can be further optimized with the help of a PCI compliance partner, who will advise on best practices for implementing PCI physical security controls that best address your organization’s needs.
Contact RSI Security today to learn more and get started!