One of the biggest problems with this requirement is that merchants must accurately know where credit card data flows from its inception, where it traverses the network and resides, and what its "state" is along the way. This is why it is critical to identify and examine all desktops, laptops, servers and databases that handle any type of cardholder information. This includes all of the database files and/or SQL tables that contain credit card numbers, not to mention all of the application systems that create or access credit card numbers. No matter what type of system touches the credit card information, it must be protected by encryption.
How to pass PCI requirement 3:
As mentioned above, start identifying all of the systems that touch cardholder data because these systems will be included in the scope of an eventual PCI DSS audit or compliance validation. It is also important to understand
Next, document the flow of credit card data throughout your organization and identify the business functions. The marketing department, for example, may need customer data, but not the associated credit card information. Track data from the point of acquisition -- even from customers or 3rd parties -- to the point where the data is disposed of or leaves the corporate network. Also be sure to identify all of the computers and networks that connect to the organization's infrastructure and applications. These can include network connections from business units, vendors, partners and the systems of remote employees. All fluid credit card data should be encrypted using methods such as SSH, VPN, or SSL/TLS for encryption.
If you are not confident in your IT department's ability to accurately identify sensitive data, there are very good data loss prevention tools that can assist in this effort. These tools are designed to sift through data across the enterprise and accurately report on which systems house it, where it is on the system and who has access to it. Once known, review the organization's access controls to enforce "need to know" policies. Also, see if it is possible to minimize how many and which systems have this sensitive information.
A GUIDE TO PASSING PCI'S FIVE TOUGHEST REQUIREMENTS
Requirement 3: Protecting stored data
Requirement 11: Regularly test security systems and processes
Requirement 8: Assign a unique ID to users
Requirement 10: Monitor access to network resources and data
Requirement 1: Install and maintain a firewall configuration
|Craig Norris, CISSP, CISA, G7799, MCSE, Security+, CAPM, TICSA, is a Regional Engagement Manager at an IT consulting firm in Dallas. He has been involved with information technology and security for over 12 years. He can be contacted via email@example.com.|
This was first published in September 2007