The dismal state of payment data security

With acceptance of mobile and other new forms of payments expected to double in the next two years, a new global study shows a critical need for organizations to improve their payment data security practices. This is according to a recent survey of more than 3,700 IT security practitioners from more than a dozen major industry sectors conducted by the Ponemon Institute for Gemalto.

Not all companies know where payment data is located

54% of those surveyed said their company had a security or data breach involving payment data, four times in past two years in average.

This is not surprising given the security investments, practices and procedures highlighted by the surveyed respondents:

  • 55% said they did not know where all their payment data is stored or located.
  • Ownership for payment data security is not centralized with 28% of respondents saying responsibility is with the CIO, 26% saying it is with the business unit, 19% with the compliance department, 15% with the CISO, and 14% with other departments.
  • 54% said that payment data security is not a top five security priority for their company with only one third (31%) feeling their company allocates enough resources to protecting payment data.
  • 59% said their company permits third party access to payment data and of these only 34% utilize multi-factor authentication to secure access.
  • Less than half of respondents (44%) said their companies use end-to-end encryption to protect payment data from the point of sale to when it is stored and/or sent to the financial institution.
  • 74% said their companies are either not PCI DSS compliant or are only partially compliant.

“These independent research findings should be a wakeup call for business leaders,” said Jean-Francois Schreiber, Senior Vice President for Identity, Data and Software Services at Gemalto. “Given what was found with traditional payment methods and data security, companies involved with payment data must realize compliance is not enough and fully rethink their security practices, especially since a full one-third of those surveyed said compliance with PCI DSS is not sufficient for ensuring the security and integrity of payment data. The financial fallouts from data breaches, and the damages to corporate reputation and customer relationships will carry even greater potential risk as newer payment methods gain adoption,” added Schreiber.

New payment methods on the rise and so are security concerns

According to the study, acceptance of new payment methods such as mobile, contactless and e-wallets will double over the next two years. While respondents say mobile payments account for just 9% of all payments today, in two years they expect this ratio to increase to 18% of all payments.

Given the issues companies IT professionals reported to face in securing payment data accepted today through traditional methods, companies are likely to face even more difficulties in securing new payment methods.

In fact, the study found that nearly three quarters (72%) of those surveyed believe these new payment methods are putting payment data at risk and 54% do not believe or are unsure their organization’s existing security protocols are capable of supporting these platforms.

The vulnerability of payment data

“Looking forward, as companies move to accept newer payment methods, their own confidence in their ability to protect that data is not strong. The majority of respondents felt protection of payment data wasn’t a top priority at their companies, and that the resources, technologies and personnel in place are insufficient.

Despite the trend to implement newer payment methods, those in the ‘IT security trenches’ don’t feel their organizations are ready. It is clearly critical for companies to look for and invest in solutions to close these data protection gaps, expeditiously,” concluded Schreiber.