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Achieving PCI DSS Compliance in the Cloud

PCI DSS compliance

In the current digital world, businesses should ensure that they protect cardholders’ data at all costs. As such, any business that stores, processes, or transmits cardholder data or any other sensitive information should comply with the latest Payment Card Industry Data Security Standards released in 2018. However, this can be overwhelming for most decision-makers. Below is a guide on how you can achieve PCI DSS compliance for your cloud operations.

What is PCI DSS, and Why Is It Important?

PCI DSS is simply security controls established by major credit card companies that all businesses accepting these cards are mandated to comply with. The credit card companies include Visa, MasterCard, American Express, Discover Financial, and JCB International. The main goal of these standards is to formulate robust security processes that prevent, detect, and respond to security issues affecting payment card data.

Failure to comply with these regulations leads to many consequences, including;

  • Heavy fines

  • Financial losses

  • Damaged reputation

  • Lawsuits

That said, while observing compliance in physical locations is simple, most businesses don’t understand how they can adhere to these regulations in their cloud operations. Actually, the main point of confusion between PCI DSS and cloud computing is determining who should ensure compliance.

 

Generally, there are 12 PCI DSS requirements and six goals encapsulated in these standards. However, only seven requirements and four goals are relevant to cloud PCI DSS compliance.

PCI DSS Cloud Compliance Requirements

 

Below are the goals and requirements for PCI DSS cloud compliance.

Goal: Build and Maintain a Secure Network

Malicious individuals can easily access and steal customer data from payment systems that don’t have secure networks. The requirements under this goal include;

  • Businesses should install and maintain firewall configurations that protect cardholder data – firewalls are important in protecting cardholder data. Therefore, businesses should ensure that their firewalls can protect all network systems from access by malicious players.

  • Businesses shouldn’t use vendor-supplied passwords, usernames, and other security parameters as default – you should change vendor-supplied security parameters immediately after deployment.

Goal: Adopt Strong Access Restriction Measures

Malicious individuals can easily access and steal customer data from payment systems that don’t have secure networks. The requirements under this goal include;

  • Businesses should install and maintain firewall configurations that protect cardholder data – firewalls are important in protecting cardholder data. Therefore, businesses should ensure that their firewalls can protect all network systems from access by malicious players.

  • Businesses shouldn’t use vendor-supplied passwords, usernames, and other security parameters as default – you should change vendor-supplied security parameters immediately after deployment.

Goal: Adopt Strong Access Restriction Measures

 

  • Limit access to cardholder data – exposing sensitive payment details to many people will increase the risk of a data breach. Therefore, such information should only be granted to authorized personnel on a need-to-know basis.

  • Assign unique IDs to everyone with computer access – all your employees with computer access should use separate, unique IDs. This ensures that only authorized personnel can access specific information. Employees should also be encouraged to observe a secure password policy.

Goal: Adopt Strong Access Restriction Measures

Malicious hackers constantly test network systems for holes and vulnerabilities. As such, organizations should monitor their test and monitor their cloud networks regularly to identify and mitigate vulnerabilities before malicious actors exploit them. Below is the PCI DSS requirement for this goal;

  • Track and monitor access to network and cardholder data – cyber experts agree that identifying the cause of data breach is almost impossible without activity logs of a network system. Network logging mechanisms are vital to effective management of vulnerabilities because they allow your IT teams to track and analyze any occurring incidences.

That said, while PCI DSS provides guidelines that should be adhered to, it is your responsibility to ensure that your cloud service provider complies with these regulations. Therefore, ensure that you ascertain your CSP’s proof of compliance and certification before employing their services. To be certain, your prospective CSP should answer the following questions;

 

  • What their cloud services entail and how the services are delivered

  • The status of the cloud service provider in terms of data security, PCI DSS compliance, and other important data security regulations.

  • What your business will be responsible for

  • If they will provide ongoing evidence of compliance to all security controls

  • If there are other parties involved in service delivery, support, or data security

  • Ask if the service provider can commit to everything in writing.

Final Thoughts

Malicious hackers constantly test network systems for holes and vulnerabilities. As such, organizations should monitor their test and monitor their cloud networks regularly to identify and mitigate vulnerabilities before malicious actors exploit them. Below is the PCI DSS requirement for this goal;

  • Track and monitor access to network and cardholder data – cyber experts agree that identifying the cause of data breach is almost impossible without activity logs of a network system. Network logging mechanisms are vital to effective management of vulnerabilities because they allow your IT teams to track and analyze any occurring incidences.

That said, while PCI DSS provides guidelines that should be adhered to, it is your responsibility to ensure that your cloud service provider complies with these regulations. Therefore, ensure that you ascertain your CSP’s proof of compliance and certification before employing their services. To be certain, your prospective CSP should answer the following questions;

  • What their cloud services entail and how the services are delivered

  • The status of the cloud service provider in terms of data security, PCI DSS compliance, and other important data security regulations.

  • What your business will be responsible for

  • If they will provide ongoing evidence of compliance to all security controls

  • If there are other parties involved in service delivery, support, or data security

  • Ask if the service provider can commit to everything in writing.

This post is a Guest Post created by Reciprocity. To read more about this article, go to this link 

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