PCI Security Standards Council Releases PCI DSS 2.0

After months of work, the PCI Security Standards Council has released the PCI DSS 2.0 standard, the `security rules’ under which all organisations processing credit card transactions – and this includes almost all businesses accepting debit, credit and charge cards – must achieve minimum standards of security and best practice.

The main virtue of PCI is the standard’s incredible opportunity to improve an enterprise’s overall security posture. Nobody is in business to be compliant. But my experience highlights a simple lesson: if you invest in controls to address PCI there is an incredible opportunity to improve overall security. Smart enterprises use PCI to increase budgets and put data security high on the executive priority list. Smart security teams use PCI as a springboard to transform how they protect consumer data—not just credit cards numbers.

The changes between PCI DSS 1.2 and v2.0 are relatively minor – which ascribes to the maturity of the standard – there are a number of key highlights:

  • Scoping PCI assessments
  • Adopting a risk-based approach to vulnerability mitigation
  • Including more detailed standards for secure coding practices for custom built applications.

Also noteworthy, is that PCI DSS has been placed on a new three-year release cycle, so the next version is expected towards the end of 2013. The new life cycle allocates 1-year for full deployment of the recent standard, 1-year of feedback submission and review and 1-year for formalisation of the new revision.

Against this backdrop, PCI DSS 2.0 has evolved into a unique set of regulations in a number of ways. Firstly it is industry- and not government-driven; and secondly, it includes specific guidance on the steps required to secure sensitive data.

Since its inception, PCI has expanded awareness to data security risks and has driven major investments in data security technology and processes. The evolution of PCI DSS by the PCI Council is aimed as adapting the standard to the evolving threat and technology landscape, while reducing the cost of compliance. PCI DSS 2.0 is an important step in that direction.

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Amichai Shulman is Co-Founder and CTO of Imperva, where he heads Imperva's internationally recognised research organisation focused on security and compliance. Prior to Imperva, Amichai was founder and CTO of Edvice Security Services, a consulting group that provided application and database security services to major financial institutions, including Web and database penetration testing and security strategy, design and implementation. Amichai served in the Israel Defense Forces, where he led a team that identified new computer attack and defense techniques. He has B.Sc and Masters Degrees in Computer Science from the Technion, Israel Institute of Technology.