PCI Council Outlines Proposed Changes

The PCI Security Standards Council's proposed revisions for PCI DSS include additional guidance and clarifications to existing requirements in areas such as data discovery and virtualization.

The PCI Security Standards Council released a document Aug. 12 outlining proposed clarifications to be added to the future version of industry regulations.

The PCI SSC document highlights several revisions slated to appear in the 2.0 versions of PCI DSS (Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard) and PA DSS (Payment Application Data Security Standard). More detailed documentation will be issued in September, and the new versions of the regulations will be published Oct. 28. Once approved, the regulations will go into effect in January.

"This is basically a direct result of feedback ... what we're seeing in the feedback is the need for, once again, greater clarity on the requirements," said PCI Security Standards Council General Manager Bob Russo.

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Among the proposals is additional guidance to ensure that all cardholder data in a business is identified and documented to enable accurate scoping of the cardholder data environment. This may mean organizations will have to use technologies such as data discovery tools, Russo said.

"We're specifically concerned with finding all the credit card holder data wherever it is on the network," he said.

The council is also including additional guidance on virtualization to update Requirement 2.2.1 to clarify the intent of "one primary function per server" and the use of virtualization.

"This has been an issue for a while where the standards were not keeping pace with advances in technology, especially use of virtualization in a card holder data environment," opined Sumedh Thakar, PCI solutions manager at Qualys. "The existing standards talk about the notion of having 'one primary function per server.' In a virtualized environment this becomes a problem since the environment can be pretty dynamic and you could have virtual servers with different primary functions, like Web servers [or] database servers, on the same physical server. This has caused merchants to hold back on introducing virtualization in their PCI environments for fear of being deemed noncompliant.

"With the new clarification that will be introduced, we hope that merchants will be able to simplify their PCI environments and cut their costs while gaining the benefits of virtualized computing," Thakar added.

Another proposed revision is to "clarify processes and increase flexibility for cryptographic key changes, retired or replaced keys and use of split control and dual knowledge," the council said.

"I think where you'll find the most anxiousness is around these emerging ... technologies that people are using, chip and tokenization and point-to-point encryption," Russo said, adding that the compliance regulations are meant to serve as a baseline for security.

"This is not the ceiling," he said. "This is the floor. So this is the bare minimum that you should be doing, and any kind of layers that you can add on top of that in terms of any kind of technologies like tokenization or point-to-point encryption ... certainly make it stronger and certainly improve your security posture."