By Jaikumar Vijayan
July 10, 2006
Visa U.S.A. Inc. and MasterCard International Inc. will release new
security rules in the next 30 to 60 days for all organizations that handle
credit card data, a Visa official said last week.
The rules will be the first major update to the one-year-old Payment Card
Industry data security standard, which analysts said is slowly but surely
One set of PCI extensions is aimed at protecting credit card data from
emerging Web application security threats, said Eduardo Perez, vice
president of corporate risk and compliance at Foster City, Calif.-based
Visa. Other new rules will require companies to ensure that any third
parties that they deal with, such as hosting providers, have proper
controls for securing credit card data.
PCI became a universal requirement on June 30, 2005, for all entities
handling credit card data. Merchants who fail to comply with PCI can face
fines or be excluded from proc-essing credit cards.
The standard lists 12 broad controls that retailers, online merchants,
data processors and other businesses must implement to protect cardholder
data. They include technology controls such as data encryption, end-user
access control and activity monitoring, as well as procedural mandates.
Most existing PCI requirements focus on security at the network level, but
many of the latest threats are on the application side, said Philippe
Courtot, CEO of Qualys Inc., a Redwood Shores, Calif.-based provider of
managed security services. So it makes sense to update PCI to protect
against Web application threats such as SQL injection attacks, cross-site
scripting flaws, error-handling problems and validation errors, he said.
The PCI standard could become stricter in the next few years. Currently,
companies are encouraged, but aren't required, to use payment applications
that meet a set of payment application best- practices standards, but that
will become compulsory over the next two years, Perez said.
The number of companies complying with PCI requirements finally appears to
be picking up after a slow start, several analysts said. Visa says that
about 22% of Tier 1 merchants, which the company defines as those
processing more than 6 million card transactions per month, are already
PCI-compliant, with another 72% on track to becoming fully compliant.
The numbers reveal that progress is being made, albeit slowly, said Avivah
Litan, a Gartner Inc. analyst.
One of the biggest technology challenges is PCI's requirement for
encryption, Litan said. Some companies are uncertain whether they are
required to encrypt data or can implement other compensating controls, she
Another factor in the slow pace of adoption is the perception that PCI,
unlike government mandates, is a private standard lacking enforcement
teeth, said Nigel Tranter, a PCI auditor at Payment Software Co., an
auditing firm in San Jose.
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