Top 5 pitfalls for securing retail cardholder data

Recognizing the need for stronger protection against security threats, the Payment Card Industry (PCI), a consortium of retail and credit card leaders, published Data Security Standard Version 1.2 (PCI DSS V1.2), outlining best practices for protecting privileged card data. Understanding the intricacies of PCI guidance, Cloakware has outlined the top five common missteps retailers fail to address, leaving them susceptible to data breaches:

1. Using vendor-supplied default passwords – With access to internet search engines, hackers and insiders can download manufacturers’ default passwords and gain access to company’s vital information. Retailers must make sure to change passwords upon program installation and update these passwords regularly.

2. Unsecured access to cardholder data – Often, companies keep a master spreadsheet with all administration passwords, making it easy for unauthorized individuals to access cardholder data and take advantage of unsuspecting customers. They need to eliminate the use of insecure password storage in favor of a secure, managed password management solution.

3. Over-assignment of rights – Typical access control systems lend themselves to the over-assignment of rights in order to simplify individual administrator rights management. At a minimum there needs to be a separation of duties based on groups and roles to restrict access among employees. Not all IT staff members should have access to every application and database.

4. Lack of traceability – Shared account usage eliminates the ability to trace activity to an individual. The assignment of unique IDs solves this issue but multiplies the number of accounts that must fall under management. The adoption of an automated password management approach solves this issue.

5. Leaving access unmonitored – Putting access controls in place is not enough – companies need to actively monitor access to make sure that no one is illegally gaining access to their cardholder data. Actively monitoring access is an appropriate control to help minimize the extent of a potential breach.

Heartland Payment Systems’ recently announced that tens of millions of credit and debit card transactions were compromised, signaling the worst breach in the Payment Card Industry history, which brought customer data protection to the forefront of issues facing retailers and consumers.




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