PCI Council publishes risk-assessment rules for card-processing networks

The Payment Card Industry (PCI) Security Standards Council today issued guidelines on how businesses storing, processing or transmitting payment-card information should look at doing an annual risk assessment.

The "PCI DSS Risk Assessment Guidelines" document published today does not represent a new requirement to the 12-part data security standards, but rather provides detail aimed at further explaining what's expected under one of the rules, DSS 12.1, which brings up the topic of risk assessment. "You need to do due diligence," said the council's general manager, Bob Russo, not just on the security related to where the merchant's cardholder data is but also with third-party processors.

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The new risk-assessment guidelines make reference to a few risk-assessment standards, including the National Institute of Standards and Technology's 800-39 standard, ISO 2705 and the so-called OCTAVE standard, among others.

"The risk-assessment process should include people, processes, and technologies that are involved in storage, processing or transmission" of cardholder data, the guidance states, including those that may not be directly involved in processing cardholder data but could still impact the safety of it. An example given is building security where cardholder data and processing exists.

The PCI Council is also undertaking two new programs on somewhat different fronts.

To encourage professional installation of payment applications used to process card information, the council has started a certification program known as "Qualified Integrated Re-Seller." The goal, said Russo, is to be able to provide merchants, especially small to midsize ones, a list of technical specialists for installing payment applications they need to use. It won't be mandatory to use a "Qualified Integrated Re-Seller," but it will be seen as preferred.

The second program getting underway is a new certification effort called "Payment Card Industry Professional." To be able to use that title professionally, individuals will need to pass a lengthy exam, with the expectation that the accreditation they earn would be for two years until renewed.

Ellen Messmer is senior editor at Network World, an IDG publication and website, where she covers news and technology trends related to information security. Twitter: @MessmerE. Email: emessmer@nww.com.

Read more about wide area network in Network World's Wide Area Network section.

Tags: National Institute of Standards and Technology, compliance, security, risk assessment, IT management, PCI Security Standards Council, PCI, regulatory compliance

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