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The Future of PCI Thanks to Today's Reality

Product Manager

We caught an article this week over on Bank Info Security's website about The Future of PCI. The PCI Security Standards Council revealed some of their thinking about where PCI needs to go during a recent PCI Community Meeting in Orlando, Florida. Some of the highlights, as we see them:

  1. "We really need to have a risk-based dialogue versus a compliance-based approach" - sounds a little bit like we're all on the same page when it comes to "compliance ≠ security".  He also acknowledges the ongoing challenge that retailers are interested in more prescriptive guidance, but threats are continually evolving: "merchants and the payments industry have to be committed to long-range security planning" and not just focusing on the current big breach. This is tough for the rest of us, who are really heads down in the day to day job. We may need the PCI Council to help us move along the spectrum, otherwise we'll keep focusing on table stakes security with the limited resources (people, money, and time) that we have.
  2. "When it comes to ensuring ongoing PCI compliance, it's critical that organizations regularly track the effectiveness of the controls and technologies they put in place, Leach says." - the reality of audit-driven compliance is that it's a once-a-year kind of deal. It's hard to keep the focus on something year in and year out when there's no pressing need. Theoretically with #1 (compliance better aligned with good security practices) it becomes easier to be able to answer "are we compliant TODAY, not just on audit day?" We see continuous compliance/monitoring becoming a trend across industries and segments, so I'm not surprised to see PCI thinking the same way. They sum it up pretty well: "Ongoing PCI is a challenge. It's very, very complicated and has many situation-specific qualities to it. ... We have to work with these organizations and make them realize the risks and then help them find solutions that work."
  3. "The very old, very basic kind of security flaws still remain - weak passwords, insecure remote access, lack of security patches, things like that that in some cases have been almost deliberately set up to make it easy for that reseller or that POS support person to do the maintenance" - a lot of us really are still fighting common security stuff. The security industry is constantly focusing on detecting the next big threat with new products and services - but the reality is a lot of us still need help making sure that our bases are fully covered in constantly evolving environments where balancing security and convenience is still a huge challenge.

There's more over in the article and we'll keep our eyes peeled for more on how the PCI council may turn this into actual material changes.

We've talked a little on Thwack before about whether compliance = security (or some variation of that truth - check out the discussion here: Re: LEM Thoughts of the Week: Does Compliance Actually Make you More Secure?). Do you think this news will change anything? Are your IT, compliance, and security teams moving toward more ongoing compliance instead of just point in time, or is an audit still a scramble? Let us know what you think about all things PCI in the comments.

1 Comment
Level 15

I bookmarked this post as we are starting to look at PCI and I want to have some reference material.  Thanks!

About the Author
After working all aspects of IT from lab/helpdesk support to complete IT responsibility over the span of 10 years, Nicole turned Product Manager to help bring accessible IT management software to the masses. She joined SolarWinds with the acquisition of Log & Event Manager in 2011 to find it felt just like home.