27 long years and still going strong with compliance standards!
PCI-DSS (Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard) is a global standard that brings together all the stakeholders of the payment industry to adopt a set of data security standards and resources for safe payments across the world.
Against the backdrop of increasing digitalization and sophisticated cyber threats, organizations implement robust IT security measures to prevent unauthorized intrusions. The usage of digital payment modes and virtual money transfers has risen uncontrollably. Hence, PCI-DSS (Payment Card Industry Data Security Standards) compliance has become too crucial to ensure security of critical financial information. The main objective of PCI-DSS is to protect the payment card environment and prevent rampant security breaches happening in this digitization era.
The Mandates of PCI-DSS
The inception of PCI-DSS happened way back in 2004. As payment frauds became exorbitant, the credit card industry (initially credit card, later on debit card was also added) leaders convened to set up some common security standards across the globe. With this, the founding members of PCI-DSS – American Express, Discover Financial Services, JCB International, Mastercard and Visa announced the first version of PCI-DSS in December 2004. This compliance turned out to be mandatory for all merchants accepting credit cards and other payment processing organizations. Even today it is applicable to all organizations that store, process and transmit sensitive cardholder data such as:
- Manufacturers (PCI PTS)
- Payment Card Issuing Banks & Merchants
- For vendors making payment application and store, process card holder data (PCI PA DSS)
- Asset Management companies
The PCI security standards expect organizations to follow or maintain the below:
- Maintain a secured network system
- Ensure the security of card holders’ data
- Implement stringent access management policy
- Maintain vulnerability management
- Frequent monitoring of the activities in the enterprise network
Incidents of Non-Compliance and Penalties
If adequate safeguards are lacking in an organization to ensure PCI-DSS compliance, then the sensitive card payment data is at grave risk, particularly if there is no system that can handle sensitive data. Card processors will be prone to data breaches even as noncompliance to industry standards will result in hefty fines. Some common PCI-DSS noncompliance examples include:
- Large Music Group, USA: A popular music group based out of the USA was targeted in late 2020 where payment card information (card number), CVV number, and expiry date were exposed—each and every detail was exposed. After a hair-split investigation, it was found that the organization’s focus was completely on the supply chain, due to which customer data security was given less importance while purchases were made. This forced the organization to cough up hefty penalties.
- Million Dollar Data Breach in a Software Company: Almost 38 million customers’ data whose login information was stolen, among whom 3 million had their credit card records as well. The company lost its credibility in the market.
- Big Payment Systems Loses Processing Privileges: In this rare instance, a USA-based payment systems company processed payment card transactions for more than 175,000 merchants whose details were compromised. The organization was eventually banned for 14 months following the revelation.
- Data Breach in Cloth Retailer: One of the popular USA clothing retailers fell prey to the cyber criminals who stole credit card information from thousands of customers who used their card in the shop for payment.
The monetary fines of PCI-DSS non-compliance can range from $5,000 to $100,000 per month, depending on the factors like business volume, vastness of the organization and the degree of non-compliance.
Role of Privileged Access Management in PCI-DSS Compliance
Payment card environment comprises highly sensitive information like ten-digit cards number, CVV number, card validity date, cardholders’ names among many other forms of confidential data. There are hundreds or maybe thousands of IT users accessing this information from time to time, that is, processing and storing data. During this practice, the information might fall in the wrong hands who might compromise the information with malicious intention such as illegal financial benefits or damaging the brand credibility.
In this backdrop, it is critical to have a seamless control over data where the IT teams need to have complete knowledge of who is accessing the processed card data – when and for what purpose. This would help the payment card processing vendor to validate the user authenticity and prevent these cards data from unauthorized user access.
In other words, the identity and access control of the payment card environment demands a very stringent policy to ensure security so that no internal or external malefactor can obtain unauthorized access. Any organization could face the wrath of non-compliance penalties. So, which is the best tool to get rid of this risk?
A robust Privileged Access Management (PAM) solution ensures seamless managing, monitoring and controlling of the card data processors’ access to confidential data. In the current context, these are privileged users that have access to customer data.
ARCON | Privileged Access Management (PAM) enables an organization to overcome the risk of illegitimate access control. It offers a rule and role-based access control to ensure only authorized card processors have access to confidential data. With ARCON | PAM, the card processors have multiple shields to safeguard against unauthorized access. Tools like MFA, Password vaulting, Granular controls help to verify the trust at every step.
Moreover, ARCON | PAM helps to adhere to the PCI-DSS standards by generating customized audit reports as per the mandates. To summarize, ARCON | PAM:
- Restricts, controls and continuously monitors the privileged users in the payment card environment by applying the deepest granular level control, robust password vaulting of the credentials and multi-factor authentication of the users. As a result, the risks of compromised insiders, third-party elements are also warded off.
- Captures each and every log and generates customized reports and audit trails of all privileged activities around the payment card environment.
- Meticulously segregates privileged users and controls the payment card environment through a centralized policy framework for every critical system and device.
- Reinforces role-based access in the payment card environment with “need-to-know” and “need-to-do” philosophy.
ARCON | Privileged Access Management (PAM) solution safeguards card processing and transaction environment with robust PCI-DSS compliance and enables every organization to address the risks of stemming from unauthorized card processors.