Walking Through PCI Compliance Requirements

The Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) is a set of security standards designed to ensure that all companies that accept, process, store, or transmit credit card information maintain a secure environment. PCI DSS is crucial for protecting sensitive cardholder data and reducing the risk of data breaches. The standard is maintained by the Payment Card Industry Security Standards Council (PCI SSC).

There are 12 main requirements in the PCI DSS, which are designed to provide a comprehensive framework for securing cardholder data. Here's an overview of requirements 1 through 12:

1. Install and maintain a firewall configuration for network security to protect cardholder data.

This requirement focuses on the implementation of firewalls and routers to establish and maintain a secure network perimeter. It includes regular testing and review of firewall rules to ensure only necessary traffic is allowed.

2. Do not use vendor-supplied defaults for system passwords and other security parameters.

Organizations are required to change default passwords and security settings on their systems and devices, as these are often well-known and easily exploited by attackers.

3. Protect stored cardholder data.

This requirement mandates that organizations encrypt sensitive cardholder data as it is accepted, processed as well as when it is stored, both on physical media and in digital format. It also emphasizes the need for secure key management.

4. Encrypt transmission of cardholder data across open, public networks.

Cardholder data must be protected during transmission over public networks by using strong encryption methods, like TLS or IPsec, to safeguard data from eavesdropping.

5. Protect all systems against malware and regularly update anti-virus software or programs.

Organizations must implement anti-virus and anti-malware solutions to protect their systems and regularly update these programs to defend against the latest threats.

6. Develop and maintain secure systems and applications.

Secure coding practices are essential in this requirement. It mandates secure development and maintenance of applications to protect against common vulnerabilities.

7. Restrict access to cardholder data by business need-to-know.

This is where personnel and operations start to play an even larger role. Access to cardholder data should be limited to individuals and processes that require it for their job roles. Access control measures, including user authentication and authorization, are critical.

A clear understanding of who has a need for access and what procedures and controls are in place, what policy updates may have been implemented and ensuring that staff are up to date with training is necessary at all times.

8. Identify and authenticate access to system components.

Multi-factor authentication and strong passwords are required to verify the identity of users and ensure that only authorized personnel can access sensitive systems. Managing access for new staff and terminating access for staff turnover is an essential aspect in maintaining system access controls continuously.

9. Restrict physical access to cardholder data.

Here we see heavy need for staff involvement for the secure management of cardholder data. Physical security measures such as access controls, visitor logs, and surveillance systems are needed to protect physical access to cardholder data. Continuous management of controls, logs and vigilant security of equipment is necessary to ensure that cardholder data remains secure.

10. Track and monitor all access to network resources and cardholder data.

Logging and monitoring mechanisms must be in place to track and alert on suspicious activities. Regular analysis of logs helps detect and respond to security incidents.

11. Regularly test security systems and processes.

Penetration testing and vulnerability scanning are necessary to identify and address weaknesses in security systems. It also requires documenting and reporting security deficiencies.

Equipment inspection and regular software/security updates are required to ensure that skimmers, phishing and other vulnerabilities are avoided whenever possible.

12. Maintain a policy that addresses information security for all personnel.

The information security policy should be reviewed and kept in an accessible location which delineates the security responsibilities of all personnel. Regular security training and awareness programs for employees are required for recertification annually.

Compliance with these 12 PCI DSS requirements is crucial for organizations that handle payment card information to maintain the security of cardholder data and reduce the risk of data breaches. Non-compliance can lead to severe financial penalties and damage to UCSF’s reputation.