PCI Compliance for credit card processing is the responsibility of all organizations in the payments industry. The primary objective of these regulations is to ensure the security of credit card transactions from cybercriminals.
PCI DSS refers to the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard. Industry compliance covers the operational and technical standards that businesses must observe when transmitting credit card transactions. The sensitive personal and financial data of customers must have strict protection at all times because cybercriminals can feast on them. Identity theft and credit card fraud are among the grave consequences of digital attacks.
The Payment Card Industry Security Standards Council (PCI SSC) maintains and manages the compliance guidelines.
The Twelve Requirements of PCI DSS
The PCI SSC chose compliance requirements that are both technical and operational. The protection of cardholder data is the core objective of these requirements:
1. Firewall configuration and maintenance.
Firewalls reject attempts by alien and unknown digital entities to access private data. As the first line of defense against hackers, firewalls must have PCI DSS compliance for adequate protection of cardholder data.
2. Avoidance of vendor-supplied password defaults and security parameters.
When your business uses point of sale (POS) systems, routers, and modems, be mindful that they come with generic passwords and security measures. The organization must address these vulnerabilities by setting up more robust passwords. It is also prudent to keep a list of software and devices that require passwords.
3. Protection of cardholder information.
The PCI DSS guidelines require two-fold protection of cardholder data. Strong encryptions involve the use of algorithms that will make life difficult for cybercriminals. Scanning primary account numbers (PAN) and regular maintenance are typical measures to ensure the encryption of data.
4. Encrypted transmission of sensitive data via public and open networks.
Credit card transactions involve transmissions to various ordinary channels, including home offices and payment processors. Encryption is also essential when data is traveling to public locations. Cardholder data is more sensitive because it contains the personal information of customers.
5. Utilization of updated anti-virus software.
The addition of antivirus software is also a requirement under the PCI DSS framework. It provides another layer of protection for Personal Account Numbers and other pertinent private data. However, there should be no neglect in keeping the antivirus software up to date with patches and fixes. Failure to do so can open the door to cybercriminals who are adept at exploiting vulnerabilities.
6. Secure applications and systems.
At all times, the systems and applications used for credit card processing must always undergo review to check if there are potential gaps or vulnerabilities that cybercriminals may try to breach. Prevention is always better than cure. Cardholder data will always be a target for attack. Credit card processors cannot lower their alertness and defenses.
7. Access restriction to cardholder data.
Organizations must restrict access to cardholder data only to personnel that need to know them. Personnel who have no operational purpose for such access must not have them. The PCI DSS requires documentation that reflects the various company roles, which require access to cardholder data.
8. Unique identification credentials to clients.
There must be strict and unique credentials for each individual that will have access to cardholder data. The PCI DSS forbids the sharing of login information by multiple personnel to lessen gaps and increase recovery time in a compromise.
9. Physical access limit to cardholder data.
The physical location of the cardholder data must always be secure. The PCI DSS requires credit card processing companies to limit access to these locations and always log any interaction with the sensitive client information.
10. Monitoring and tracking of network resources and cardholder data.
A lack of sufficient and compliant record-keeping mechanisms can prove detrimental to the track record of a credit card processing company. Many non-compliance issues stem from the failure of companies to precisely track all activities relating to cardholder data and primary account numbers (PAN).
11. Regular schedule of security system tests.
Systems are not infallible. There is always the possibility that a critical aspect of the credit card processing system may suffer a malfunction or fail because of human error. A proactive means to prevent such problems is to comply with the PCI DSS of regular vulnerability scans.
12. Information security policy for all personnel.
A chain is only as strong as its weakest link. The PCI DSS recognizes the need to document all personnel with access to vital cardholder data and a thorough inventory of software and equipment.
The documentation logs must detail how the information flows into the company and the data storage mechanism after the point of sale.
Organizations in the payments industry must comply with the PCI DSS requirement for network documentation (1.1.2 and 1.1.3). It is essential to sustain the stability of networks and protect the Cardholder Data Environment (CDE).
Network infrastructure and data flow diagrams are tedious and time-consuming. But they are essential because they are the backbone to securing the stability of payment systems. Here are tips to improve PCI DSS compliance for documentation.
1. Finding the Platform
Some programs and platforms can assist organizations in creating network diagrams and compliance illustrations. Lucidchart and Visio stand out from the pack.
Lucidchart has an AWS architecture import that accepts data by running a bash script. It also has a library that can accommodate several networks. Organizations can create customized network diagrams by using stencils and templates.
2. Sourcing a Single Reference
It is best to have multiple people maintaining the network diagram of an organization. This is a risk mitigation measure to ensure easier turnover of information and more versatile working arrangements. An optimum platform for network documentation can provide a safe space for the collaboration of team members working on the network diagram.
Revision logs and access credentials will enable the organization to monitor significant changes to the diagram and assess the network map’s progress.
Infrastructure Pointers for Credit Card Processing
With the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic, many businesses and organizations rely on credit card processing for their daily operations. It is essential to secure various physical and digital aspects of the system to be PCI-DSS compliant.
Wireless Network and Connectivity
Remote work and smartphones are changing the way businesses and customers operate during this pandemic. More credit card transactions are coursing through wireless networks. Payment gateways must document their router configuration well to prevent security gaps that cybercriminals can exploit. Web authentication from clients can help protect the network diagram from rogue elements.
Backend servers help small businesses that conduct Point of Sale (POS) to protect the privacy of their data from breaches. Small companies do not need to expose their credit card transactions on a public network with a dedicated server.
Monitoring financial transactions can be more efficient with the help of surveillance equipment. Vital cardholder data are safer with surveillance logs so that organizations can supervise them when necessary.
The firewall is the first line of defense that shields credit card transactions from unauthorized access. It is the core component of network diagrams because security personnel typically find vulnerabilities and malicious agents in this domain. The proper documentation of firewalls can assist in faster data recovery in the event of a security incident.
Best Practices to PCI Compliance
1. Regular Update of POS Software
Cybercriminals find ways to improve their fraud and hacking capabilities. Software developers counter this by releasing frequent patch updates to provide maximum protection to their enterprise. Organizations that use POS must download these updates as soon as possible to defend the infrastructure from new threats.
2. Constant Monitoring of Self-Checkout Kiosks and Terminals
Two methodologies of POS data theft include the use of stolen credentials on the POS system or the use of card skimmers on self-checkout terminals without monitoring.
Card skimmers need only seconds for installation and can steal payment card information and PIN details from the card’s magnetic swipe. New chip cards eliminated this threat, but 42% of retailers have no upgrades yet for their payment terminals.
An industry standard is not to leave self-checkout kiosks unattended. There must be on-site personnel that can identify card skimmers.
3. Isolation of POS Systems from Other Networks
Establishments such as restaurants, shops, and hotels typically offer free WI-Fi connections to their customers. The Point of Sale system should not be part of this public network because hackers can easily find a backdoor to access sensitive personal information in these devices.
Two common ways that hackers accomplish this is by segmenting two networks or using multifactor authentication to establish communication between the leading network and the POS system.
The POS system must have its own server, but this solution will depend on the size and resources of the organization.
4. Avoidance of Default Manufacturer Passwords
POS devices always arrive with default passwords from the manufacturers. Some businesses forget to change this into a more secure password. Cybercriminals can take advantage of this negligence, giving them a portal to access the vital cardholder data in these devices. An immediate password change is part of the standards of PCI-DSS for compliance.
5. Purchase of POS Systems from Reputable Sources
It is difficult to trust a POS system if the organization is unsure where the devices came from. If the dealer has an inexpensive deal, but it turns out to be shady and fraudulent, the financial and reputational damage to the organization will be immense.
6. Scans and Mitigation
Compliance with PCI DSS is a commitment to information security. Cardholder data is a potential target of cybercriminals because it can quickly turn into financial gain. Organizations must balance their business goals with security costs. A cardholder data breach will be very costly if a company will not devote risk mitigation resources to prevent it. Organizations should think of it as a long-term investment. The PCI DSS is a comprehensive set of guidelines that provide additional protection for organizations.
7. Data Segmentation
Cardholder data must be in a separate storage segment from standard corporate data. There must be a cardholder environment that only interacts with cardholder data. It also reduces the scope of a PCI DSS audit.
8. Data Encryption and Access Control
Cardholder data must undergo tokenization or encryption, starting from the company’s interaction with the client’s card number. Role-based access controls (RBAC) enable easier compliance with PCI DSS guidelines because they will ensure that the Human Resources department has no access to Cardholder Data (CHD). The data is only on a need-to-know basis for system administrators.
Advanced Consultation on PCI Compliance
RSI Security understands the complexity of meeting the requirements of PCI DSS for credit card transactions. Our team knows how to implement strategies that will make it easy for your organization to comply with government regulations. We can align with your business objectives to boost the productivity of your company with our expert guidance.
Organizations tend to overthink the compliance process and fail to institute long-term governance processes to protect cardholder information. Security attacks target cardholder data because it is one of the most accessible types of information that can become cash. We will help your company specify where and when the data collection must happen. We understand it’s not all about compliance. The endgame is security and risk.
Our goal is to provide cost-efficiency in your organization’s pursuit to be PCI DSS compliant. From network architecture diagram to infrastructure manufacturing, trust RSI Security to give you the strategic edge so you can excel in your industry.
Get in touch with RSI Security to set up an appointment, and together, we’ll develop solutions to ensure PCI compliance for credit card processing.