Archive for May 28th, 2010

28
May
10

Where Do I Find PCI Information?

This is a common question that comes up.  Where do you find all of the information on the PCI standards?

The first place to go looking is at the PCI Security Standards Council (SSC) Web site.  The PCI SSC Web site has a number of resources that you need to check out.  These include:

  • The PCI Data Security Standard (DSS), the Self-Assessment Questionnaires (SAQ), Payment Application Data Security Standard (PA-DSS) and PIN Transaction Security (PTS)
  • Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
  • Information Supplements
  • Locate a Qualified Security Assessor (QSA), Qualified Security Assessor Company (QSAC), Payment Application QSAC (PA-QSAC) or an Approved Scanning Vendor (ASV)
  • PCI training

The FAQ is where the PCI SSC posts all of the questions and answers about the PCI standards.  Questions can be asked by anyone accessing the Web site.  The answers come from representatives of the card brands with the PCI SSC staff collecting and publishing the card brands’ agreed to responses.  Answers to questions typically take four to six weeks to obtain an answer.  However, it is not unusual for answers to take quite a while.  For example, in the case of securing pre-authorization data, it has been almost four years and we are still waiting for a response which the PCI SSC has promised they will deliver in the coming year.

Information Supplements are white papers written by various authors (usually PCI SSC staff or the card brands) and approved by the PCI SSC and the card brands that discuss a PCI standard requirement in detail to further explain a requirement and explain how a merchant or service provider can meet the requirement.  Informational Supplements that have been published thus far include:

  • Skimming Prevention: Best Practices for Merchants
  • Wireless Guidelines
  • Requirement 6.6 (Application Code Reviews and Application Firewalls)
  • Requirement 11.3 (Penetration Testing)

The PCI SSC has indicated that more Information Supplements are going to be issued in the future instead of updates to the standards.

Locating a QSAC, PA-QSAC and ASV is provided by a PDF list for each type.  Individual QSAs can be looked up by their name so that you can confirm they are in fact QSAs.  The PCI SSC recently sent out a clarification in one of their newsletters to QSAs discussing the fact that once a QSA leaves their QSAC; they need to join another QSAC who applies to have them transferred by the PCI SSC to retain their QSA certification.  If they do not join another QSAC, they are no longer allowed to use the QSA designation.  So, it is important to confirm that the people and firms you are talking with are in fact QSAs and QSACs.

If a QSAC is listed as in remediation does not mean that the QSAC and their QSAs cannot continue to perform PCI assessments, this just means that the QSAC was found deficient in meeting the documentation and reporting standards of the PCI SSC.  Even though the PCI SSC issued a well written release on the meaning of remediation, a number of unscrupulous QSAs are telling prospects that because a QSAC is in remediation, it cannot perform PCI assessments.  This is patently false and any QSA that makes such a statement should be reported to the PCI SSC for telling such a falsehood.

Of course the most obvious thing provided by the PCI SSC’s Web site is the standards themselves.  Unfortunately, without the benefit of the PCI SSC’s training program, interpreting the various PCI standards can be difficult, if not impossible.  However, there are a number of independent resources for people to use to get interpretations of the PCI standards.  One that I have actively participated in is the Society of Payment Security Professionals (SPSP) Forum.  There is also the PCI Knowledge Base that has a large contingent of QSAs and other experts that can provide guidance regarding the PCI standards.  There are also forums provided through Yahoo and LinkedIn as well as other similar services, but I am not as well versed in the accuracy of the information provided through those venues so I cannot recommend them.

So the next time you are looking for information regarding PCI, here are some resources you can use.

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