Four reasons why some big retailers are still not PCI-compliant
The deadline for compliance was Oct. 1
Computerworld - Starting today, big retailers accepting payment card transactions face fines ranging from $5,000 to $25,000 a month if they don't comply with the Payment Card Industry (PCI) data security standard mandated by the major credit card companies.
Under the PCI standard, all companies accepting payment cards are required to implement a set of 12 security controls for protecting card holder data. The controls include ones related to access control and authentication, data encryption, and transaction logging.
About 325 Tier 1 merchants, those defined as processing more than 6 million card transactions a year, had until Sept. 30 to show they had implemented all of the required controls. But according to estimates from analyst firm Gartner Inc. and observers in the payment industry, a good half of them are unlikely to have made the deadline for a variety of reasons.
Here are four of the likeliest reasons:
The time and money required to implement PCI controls on legacy systems
Large companies with highly distributed, older computing environments are having an especially hard time applying the security controls mandated by PCI, said Amer Deeba, chief marketing officer and vice president of product marketing at Qualys Inc., a Redwood Shores, Calif.-based vendor of IT security systems. "Many of the big [retailers] are handling credit card information from all around the world and storing it in legacy systems that are no longer being supported or updated" by software vendors, he said.
Applying the needed security updates and patches in such an environment without breaking functionality can be a huge challenge -- especially given the near continuous uptime requirements of such systems, said Sean Smith, technology director at Steak N Shake Co., an Indianapolis-based restaurant chain. Steak N Shake, a Tier 1 vendor, has turned in its compliance reports "with all areas being marked as sufficient" for compliance, Smith said. But getting to that point involved a large-scale, yearlong effort that included adding new security controls such as file integrity monitoring and event log capturing to a "very legacy environment," he said.
A proper security upgrade in distributed legacy environments would require millions of dollars in system upgrades and months of dedicated manpower, said Avivah Litan, an analyst at Gartner Inc. "As a result, retailers in these positions are basically being forced to apply Band-Aids to patch the problems while having to juggle lots of priorities and competing interests as they do so," she said. "The effort is far from straightforward."
Differing interpretations of compliance by auditors
A company may think it has implemented all of the recommended controls under the PCI standard and discover that it is still not compliant when assessed because of the way different auditors assess compliance, said Jay White, global information protection architect at Chevron Corp. "The biggest challenge with PCI is that you are at the mercy of the auditors and their skill set," White said. With some auditors, he said, "everything becomes black and white. It's either on or it's off," whereas what might be needed is a more nuanced view of the controls a company has in place.
This state transportation department uses computer science students from a local university as programming interns, and everyone is happy with the arrangement -- until one intern learns how to bring down the mainframe.
- IT Certification Study Tips
- Register for this Computerworld Insider Study Tip guide and gain access to hundreds of premium content articles, cheat sheets, product reviews and more.
- Changing the Way Government Works: Four Technology Trends that Drive Down Costs and Increase Productivity
- This paper discusses four technology-based approaches to improving processes and increasing
productivity while driving down department and agency costs.
- Path Selection Infographic
- Path Selection Infographic
- Hyperconvergence Infographic
- A wide range of observers agree that data centers are now entering an era of "hyperconvergence" that will raise network traffic levels faster...
- Preparing Your Infrastructure for the Hyperconvergence Era
- From cloud computing and virtualization to mobility and unified communications, an array of innovative technologies is transforming today's data centers.
- How WAN Optimization Helps Enterprises Reduce Costs
- If you wanted to break down innovation into a tidy equation, it might go something like this: Technology + Connectivity = Productivity. Productivity... All Government IT White Papers
- Cloud Knowledge Vault Learn how your organization can benefit from the scalability, flexibility, and performance that the cloud offers through the short videos and other resources...
- LIVE EVENT: 5/7, The End of Data Protection As We Know It. Introducing a Next Generation Data Protection Architecture. Traditional backup is going away, but where does this leave end-users?
- On-demand webinar: "Mobility Mayhem: Balancing BYOD with Enterprise Security" Check out this on-demand webinar to hear Sophos senior security expert John Shier deep dive into how BYOD impacts your enterprise security strategy...
- Mobile Security: Containerizing Enterprise Data In this on-demand webinar, Fixmo's Lee Cocking, VP of corporate strategy, explains why Apple-ization trends like mobility and "bring-your-own-device" (BYOD) are driving the...
- Endpoint Data Management: Protecting the Perimeter of the Internet of Things Not surprisingly, "Internet of Things" (IoT) and Big Data present new challenges AND opportunities for enterprise IT. Teams need to harness, secure and...
- All Government IT Webcasts