The process of complying with PCI DSS may appear unachievable. The requirements are compiled in over 100 pages which makes reading and internalizing the security standards a challenge. The Payment Card Industry (PCI) is made up of credit service providers including MasterCard and Visa and they are obliged to comply with the PCI Security Standards Council (PCI SSC) requirements.

For these companies to adhere to these requirements, they must understand the information of the cardholders, location of the information, and how to protect it from leakage and misuse by criminals. Below is a summary of the introductory materials that are offered by the security standard.

What is PCI Compliance Scope?

The process of identifying the ideal scope of PCI DSS is not easy during a compliance review. Before establishing the scope, you need to define the Cardholder Data Environment (CDE). This environment is provided by networked IT systems that safely stores and/or transmit the data of the cardholders or any other payment authentication data.  The standard highlights the “system components” of various servers, network devices, computing devices, and other applications. It provides the following specific examples:

  1. Security services, services impacting security, and segmentation services
  2. Virtual components such as hypervisors, applications/desktops, machines, and routers/switches/appliances
  3. Network components
  4. Server types
  5. All items connected to CDE
  6. Internal and external applications

Also, there should be an annual review to ensure that the PCI DSS compliance reporting is accurate thus guaranteeing appropriate vulnerability management.

Is there Need to Network Segmentation to be PCI Compliant?

Network segmentation involves setting the CDE aside from all the other data in your organization. However, this is not part of the requirements for PCI DSS compliance. It only helps to reduce cost, scope, risk, and difficulty of identification.

If your organization network is not segmented (flat network), then everything in your company will have to be reviewed for compliance which further expands the scope making the process more complicated. To separate the information, you may require to install internal firewalls or isolating routers. Also, ensure that you restrict all the data related to the cardholders and make a data flow diagram for the purpose of PCI DSS compliance. As such, segmentation is a necessary mean of verifying the isolation of all the systems that store, transmit, and process the information. However, you should note that the network configuration is top-notch to avoid mapping difficulties.

Ways Through which PCI Compliance Include Wireless Networks 

All the sale technology (including websites), WLAN, line-busting technology, utilized to process, store, and even transmit data that involves cardholders is part of CDE. Using PCI-DSS compliance is friendlier when you are using wireless technology for all non-sensitive data.

Can I Use Third-Party Services / Outsourcing to Handle My PCI DSS Requirement?

While you can use a third-party to manage PCI-DSS requirements, it is necessary that the service providers prove compliance by the following methods:

  • Independent Annual Assessment
  • Ideal Practices for executing PCI DSS into Business-as-Usual Processes
  • Multiple-On-Demand Assessments done on request by a client
  • In cases where service providers perform own assessment, the customer should ensure that it covers all the compliance needs and that it is included in the contract.

Implementing PCI DSS strengthens the culture of your organization in the following ways as listed by PCI:

  • Monitoring everything
  • Quick correctional systems. In case something goes wrong, the controls should be restored, causes identified and rectified quickly. Also, you should put in place future mitigation measures.
  • Review environmental changes before putting them into action
  • Assess PCI DSS impacts
  • Review PCI DSS requirements resulting from changes
  • Update scope and controls
  • Review impact of changes in your organization on scope and compliance requirements
  • Perform periodic reviews for continuity in compliance. Ensure necessary documents are in place
  • Review software and hardware. In case you’ve hired vendors, ensure their PCI DSS compliance

How to Sample Business Facilities and System Components as a Qualified Security Assessor

If you have numerous branches, you may need to use random samplings of components for your PCI DSS audit process. However, you must ensure that the organization complies with the requirements wholly. Ensure that you take both the business facilities samples and system component (software and hardware) samples. Consider the following items when collecting the samples:

  • Samples can be smaller with centralized, standardized processes that everyone follows and lack of standardized processes call for larger samples.
  • A sample should review each business area/section
  • Larger samples are needed where compliance is handled independently
  • System component samples should capture all hardware, platforms, and applications

When choosing the sample;

  • Document decision-making process (location, component, and sample size)
  • Record and validate sample types
  • Explain the sample is ideal for the business

Compensating Controls

PCI DSS compliance requirements are categorical on the compliance procedure. Evaluate your information storage to help you negotiate an approach to compliance.  You should review the information provided in the prologue sections of the standards for guidance.