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What Are PCI Compliance Data Center Requirements?


Compliance with the PCI DSS data center requirements is critical to safeguarding sensitive cardholder data (CHD) processed at data centers. Beyond protecting CHD from breach risks, the PCI compliance data center requirements help organizations optimize their PCI data safeguards to the standards required by the PCI DSS. Read on to learn more.   


Breakdown of the PCI Compliance Data Center Requirements  

To achieve robust security across data centers where CHD is processed, you must implement the minimum controls stipulated by the PCI compliance data center requirements

To meet the PCI DSS data center requirements, organizations are expected to:

If your data center processes sensitive CHD for multiple stakeholders (e.g., merchants, payment card issuers, service providers), compliance with the PCI data center requirements is critical to providing continued security assurance to the stakeholders. Beyond earning the trust of stakeholders, PCI compliance will help protect you from the legal, financial, and reputational consequences of data breaches—especially when working with a PCI compliance partner.


What are the PCI DSS Requirements?

Implementing a framework for meeting the PCI compliance data center requirements and those of the broader Data Security Standards (DSS) starts with defining the PCI DSS Requirements and how they help achieve data security. The PCI DSS v4.0 comprises 12 Requirements:

Although the guidelines stipulated by all the 12 PCI DSS Requirements broadly apply to data security optimization at data and call centers, this blog will focus primarily on Requirements 1, 3, 9, and 11, which apply most directly to data centers and data center security.


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Secure Networks at Data Centers

The PCI compliance data center requirements guide the implementation of network security controls (NSCs), which serve as the network gatekeepers of sensitive data environments at PCI data and call centers. Specifically, PCI DSS NSCs focused on data centers help:

The NSCs implemented at data centers typically include:

And, when configuring and implementing NSCs, data and call centers must ensure:

Implementing network security via NSCs will help address the PCI compliance data center requirements and minimize common PCI network security risks.

Secure All CHD Storage at Data Centers

Per PCI DSS Requirement 3, any CHD stored at data centers must be secured throughout its lifecycle. Specifically, DSS Requirement 3.5 mandates safeguarding primary account numbers (PANs) wherever it is stored. Data centers may be considered primary or non-primary storage locations of PAN, depending on the specific storage system housing the PAN. 

The PCI compliance data center requirements classify primary PAN storage locations as databases or flat files such as spreadsheets. Conversely, non-primary storage locations include:

All PAN storage, whether primary or secondary, must be secured and encrypted at all times using cryptographic tools, such as:

Additionally, the cryptographic keys used to encrypt PAN must be securely stored and managed to meet the PCI compliance data center requirements.


Control Physical Access to Data Centers

PCI DSS Requirement 9 recommends implementing physical access controls to safeguard the sensitivity of CHD at data centers. PCI data center requirements for physical access include:

Implementing the physical access controls for data centers will help prevent unauthorized entry into sensitive physical CDE at data centers and enhance physical security standards. 

Test Systems and Networks at Data Centers

The PCI compliance data center requirements also mandate data and call center locations to routinely test the security of their networks and systems. Testing network and system security at data and call centers is critical to gaining visibility into your security posture and potentially identifying cybersecurity vulnerabilities. 

PCI DSS Requirement 11 recommends the following network and security testing practices: 

When testing physical CDEs, the PCI call center compliance requirements also recommend using multiple testing methods to cover a wider area of the CDE. More importantly, testing must be an iterative process driven by continuous feedback gained from security controls that work effectively and those requiring further optimization.

Working with a PCI compliance partner will help guide testing procedures in preparation for compliance reporting and maintaining year-round compliance.


Enhance PCI Data Center Security

Compliance with the PCI DSS data center requirements will help optimize the security controls you implement at data and call centers and secure the high volumes of sensitive data handled at these facilities. Meeting the standards of the PCI compliance data center requirements is best achieved in partnership with a leading PCI compliance advisor, who will help you mitigate costly data breaches and strengthen your security posture. 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.

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