cardholder data environment (CDE)

Contributor(s): Sharon Shea

A cardholder data environment (CDE) is a computer system or networked group of IT systems that processes, stores and/or transmits cardholder data or sensitive payment authentication data. A CDE also includes any component that directly connects to or supports this network.

The Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) includes specific requirements for securing electronic payment and authentication data residing on all physical and virtual components in the CDE, including:

Most data breaches  in the retail sector involve a compromise of the cardholder data environment. To that end, the PCI DSS requires a variety of controls to secure the CDE, including network segmentation. If the size and scope of the cardholder data environment is minimal and is adequately isolated using technology and rule sets, it will reduce the likelihood of a data breach.

This was last updated in May 2014

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