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PCI Compliance for Retailers from the Cloud Perspective
Looking at individual PCI requirements and how they are addressed from the cloud

One of the key drivers to IT security investment is compliance. Several industries are bound by various mandates that require certain transparencies and security features. They are designed to mitigate aspects of risk including maintaining the sacrosanctity of customer information, financial data and other proprietary information.

One such affected vertical is retail. No matter if you’re Wal-Mart or Nana’s Knitted Kittens, if you store customer information; if you process payments using customer’s credit cards, you are required by law to comply with a variety of security standards. Although there are several auditing agencies and mandating bodies, today we will concentrate on the one compliance agency that is typically applicable to every retailer-PCI.

PCI (Payment Card Industry) enforces Data Security Standards that looks to ensure that ALL companies that process, store or transmit credit card information maintain a secure environment. Now of course, not all merchants are created equal. Nana obviously doesn’t process the volume or the dollar amount of a national or even a high traffic regional retailer. However, this doesn’t let Nana off the hook. Her online shopping cart still needs to be Payment Application DSS validated (PCI compliant). She still is required to pass security audits of her network…just not as often.

But for the sake of this example, let’s assume you are a retailer who processes more than 20,000 transactions a year and the administrative burden of PCI is a real concern. In fact, it is a business necessity to maintain merchant accounts with VISA, American Express and MasterCard. And it is hugely important to keep the confidence of your customers. Fines for non-compliance aside, a breach of your network could cost millions of dollars. And that doesn’t begin to calculate the cost of customer defection through loss of trust.

Most, if not all, retailers have some sort of PCI monitoring in place. However, they are often cumbersome, expensive and resource heavy. Additionally, too many retail organizations don’t employ a compliance officer, much less a dedicated security person. This doesn’t mean these functions aren’t part of someone’s job description. Typically, they are yet another line item in a plethora of competing priorities and mission critical initiatives. In that security can be considered a cost center, the move to simply do the bare minimum to meet compliance is often an attractive alternative. Until now. Until the cloud. More specifically, a holistic enterprise security initiative deployed and managed from the cloud.

So how does cloud-based security/security-as-a-service meet the requirements of PCI while driving down costs, freeing up personnel resources and providing an easy-yet-comprehensive suite of capabilities and functions?

The easiest way to illustrate the potential is to look at the individual PCI requirements and how they are addressed from the cloud:

1. Protect Data: A cloud-based SIEM offering can accomplish the most important feature of this requirement: the ability to instantly recognize any change, intrusion or activity to your firewall IN REAL TIME. That’s the key. There isn’t the lag of looking at all the logs a week later when the damage has been done, or not being able to tell a suspicious action from a white noise false positive. Whereas many SIEM products can do just this, ones from the cloud provide the additional benefit of 7/24/365 monitoring across the entire enterprise. And, you get a scope of visibility of Fortune 500 class protection for literally pennies on the dollar.

2. No vendor-supplied defaults for system passwords and other security parameters: This process is typically enforced by an identity management protocol. The system includes a password management and synchronization feature. The overarching benefit here is SIEM and identity management are two separate functions from two separate applications. However, applying a holistic solution from the cloud gives you the additional flexibility to recognize new accounts, check device configurations and know when and where configurations have deviated from your standards including the entry of too many incorrect passwords

3. Protect cardholder data: Not only are you required to protect and store data, but ensure encryption of any transmission of that data across public networks. The application of situational awareness is  an effective means of capturing, encrypting and storing (and destroying) certain pieces of information and then providing the auditing regulatory agency with proof that your best practices are in line with internal and external policies. This is the heart of your security and should be treated as such. For instance an immediate alert can be escalated if anyone pings the server in which your data is stored and you can instantly move to block them out or allow access depending on their internally designed permissions.

4. Maintain a Vulnerability Management Program: This includes securing SaaS applications and regularly updating anti-virus software. Again the answer is in the clouds. Single sign on and web authentication can tie together all the permissible applications and provide user provisioning. What makes this especially valuable in the cloud is the speed in which connectors can be created and distributed to only those who require the application. For instance, shipping doesn’t need to see the HR applications and marketing doesn’t require access to inventory programs.

5. Implement strong access control methods: As PCI specifically says access to personal and sensitive data is on a “Business need to know,” cloud-based identity managementprovides control and creates specific provisioning on who can see what and have access to which data. It gives you the visibility and the audit reports to show who accessed what, when and from what device.  Again, the cloud version of this solution ties it together with all the other security solutions giving it true enterprise context.

6. Collect logs and applications impacted by PCI: Log management is one of the most time intensive aspects of security. Not only do the logs need to be collected, but they also need to be studied for traffic patterns, suspicious anomalies, improper or failed access and create an audit trail for card processing systems. An automated system can only do so much and most organizations don’t spend a great deal of man hours scouring millions of lines of machine code. That’s where log management from the cloud is a huge time and asset saver. Not only does it have the automation to review and categorize this code, but security-as-a-service provides the additional human expertise to piece together the situational awareness from multiple silos to give a true report of the security of the enterprise. It’s like having an expert analyst on staff without the associated costs. And of course, those logs can be archived in accordance with PCI requirements for 1 year.

PCI is just one agency with its strict set of requirements. Now imagine the cost and personnel savings  when having to comply with multiple agencies. A VP of Ops from a nationally recognized retail company told me he deals with six agencies on a regular basis. Without a holistic and centralized security approach, he would waste endless hours through redundant reporting. With the application of security centralization, 75 hours per month becomes 10. And more importantly, the degree of accuracy of the reporting is significantly better.

In the above six line items, I described four or five different solutions. That in itself can be a heavy investment...unless you look at layering in the cloud. If you are inclined, there is a growing best practice platform of unified security whereby a company can achieve all these goals by leveraging all the solutions into one single source managed from the cloud (cost-effective, enterprise-powered and compliance -ready). But, that is enough ammunition for several other blogs...so keep posted.

So if compliance is one of your banes of business, maybe it’s time you took a deeper look at the cloud.

Kevin Nikkhoo
Always PCI compliant! (HIPAA compliant too. And CIP, and SOX, GLBA and many, many others!)
www.CloudAccess.com

About Kevin Nikkhoo
With more than 32 years of experience in information technology, and an extensive and successful entrepreneurial background, Kevin Nikkhoo is the CEO of the dynamic security-as-a-service startup Cloud Access. CloudAccess is at the forefront of the latest evolution of IT asset protection--the cloud.

Kevin holds a Bachelor of Science in Computer Engineering from McGill University, Master of Computer Engineering at California State University, Los Angeles, and an MBA from the University of Southern California with emphasis in entrepreneurial studies.

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Cloud Expo - Cloud Looms Large on SYS-CON.TV


Cloud Expo 2013 East Opening Keynote by IBM
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New York City Expo Floor Plan Revealed
Cloud Expo New York
[June 11-14, 2012]

Floor Plan Revealed


Introducing Big Data Expo
Introducing
There is little doubt that Big Data solutions will have an increasing role in the Enterprise IT mainstream over time. Get a jump on that rapidly evolving trend at Big Data Expo, which we are introducing in June at
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Testimonials
Cloud Expo was a fantastic event for CSS Corp - we easily exceeded our objectives for engaging with clients and prospects."
AHMAR ABBAS
SVP, Global Infrastructure Management, CSS Corp.
 
With our launch at Cloud Expo, we successfully transformed the company from a relatively unknown European player into the dominant player in the market. Our competitors were taken by surprise and just blown away. We got a huge number of really high quality leads..."
PETE MALCOLM
CEO, Abiquo
 
We were extremely pleased with Cloud Expo this year - I’d say it exceeded expectations all around. This is the same info we got from partners who attended as well. Nice job!"
MARY BASS
Director of Marketing, UnivaUD
 
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President & CEO, Appzero


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@CloudExpo Blogs
Founded in 2010, OpenStack is an open source Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) platform used to manage large quantities of compute storage and networking resources contained in a data center. It’s one of the fastest growing open source communities in the world, with over 400 companies and 18,000 contributors utilizing it.

Projections published in the OpenStack Pulse 2014 report from 451 Research indicate that OpenStack-based market revenue is expected to exceed $3 billion by 2018.

This reference card, titled “Getting Started with OpenStack” is a comprehensive over...

There are several hundred good reasons to attend Cloud Expo | @ThingsExpo and the DevOps Summit next week (June 9-11) at the Javits Center in New York. Hundreds of great presentations and exhibits, the world's largest audience at an independent Cloud and IoT event, and the inspiration that one always gets when hearing peers discuss what they are doing in the cloud. I've winnowed the list down to half a dozen big-picture items. I'm sure you'll have your big reasons as well. 1. Geek Girls I have a daughter who was an applied math major and is now an actuary, so I get to use the term "gee...

Let's just nip the conflation of these terms in the bud, shall we?

"MIcro" is big these days. Both microservices and microsegmentation are having and will continue to have an impact on data center architecture, but not necessarily for the same reasons. There's a growing trend in which folks - particularly those with a network background - conflate the two and use them to mean the same thing.

They are not.

One is about the application. The other, the network. There is a relationship, but it's a voluntary one. They are two very different things and we need to ...

SYS-CON Events announced today that the "First Containers & Microservices Conference" will take place June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City. The “Second Containers & Microservices Conference” will take place November 3-5, 2015, at Santa Clara Convention Center, Santa Clara, CA. Containers and microservices have become topics of intense interest throughout the cloud developer and enterprise IT communities.
The growing cloud computing industry brings many new opportunities, but with success comes litigation, both from competitors seeking to gain an edge in a crowded market and opportunists seeking to make a quick buck. Valid patents and good innovations deserve due respect and consideration, but the vast majority of infringement actions are started by non-practicing entities (aka “patent trolls”) that acquire and assert broad patents, many with questionable validity. There is no question that patent litigation is costly. Litigation that goes to trial can cost over $3 million, and result in damage...
Matt and I first met in the Summer of 2014 at DevOpsDays Minneapolis. My first introduction came when he (and several other DoD alums) participated in an impressive round of DevOps Karaoke. Matt gave an IGNITE talk on day two of the event titled “How to Hire Your First DevOp” as well. I learned during that event that he co-hosted a DevOps specific podcast that was gaining in popularity. It made perfect sense. Not long after Minneapolis, I began trading emails with the organizers of DevOpsDays Chicago when I learned that Matt was a co-organizer for that event. VictorOps (and myself) definitely...
Behind every mobile application, smart device, or The Internet of Things (IoT) there is at least one application programming interface (API). These API's and the graphical user interface (GUI) are often interdependent on each other to collect information. For instance, let's take an example of Yelp application. Here google maps API determines which nearby restaurants need to be shown on the mobile screen. Similarly, from the GUI, depending the information you type on the screen (Restaurants, Bars, Coffee places), the API generates a different search result.
It almost looks like Internet of Things really came into existence because of the Cloud. It is the most reasonable way (probably the only cost effective way) to operate the IOT. SAP Hana Cloud Platform also offers the IOT Services a la Cloud. SAP Hana in-memory IOT Platform helps you to quickly develop, deploy and manage your IOT Projects and machine-to-machine applications.
On March 18, 2015, system administrators and developers received ominous news: two high severity vulnerabilities in OpenSSL would be announced the next day. Since Heartbleed, OpenSSL had been on a bad streak, and it looked like things were only going to get worse. Operations, development, and security teams braced for impact and then– it wasn't really that bad. One issue was about the downgrade to export RSA vulnerability and the other was about susceptibility to DoS attacks. The RSA export was a serious problem, but it had been known for months and was just being officially reclassified as...
Andi Mann has been serving as Conference Chair of the DevOps Summit since its inception. He is one of the world's recognized leaders in DevOps, and continues to be one of its most articulate advocates. Here are some recent thoughts of his in an interview we conducted in the run-up to the DevOps Summit to be held June 9-11 at the Javits Center in New York City. When did you first start thinking about DevOps and its potential impact on enterprise IT? Andi: I first started thinking about DevOps back in 2010, when I was an IT industry analyst. It was an intriguing concept, but initially I was ve...
The 17th International Cloud Expo has announced that its Call for Papers is open. 17th International Cloud Expo, to be held November 3-5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, brings together Cloud Computing, APM, APIs, Microservices, Security, Big Data, Internet of Things, DevOps and WebRTC to one location. With cloud computing driving a higher percentage of enterprise IT budgets every year, it becomes increasingly important to plant your flag in this fast-expanding business opportunity. Submit your speaking proposal today!
It's 3 am in California, and you are still awake trying to sort through a release process that has been delayed by several hours. The deployment to the main application cluster took several extra hours due to an unanticipated problem with the servers, and now everyone is waiting on the lead database administrator to call into a conference bridge so you can all move on to Step 53.5b of the deployment. Your production deployments always seem to be problematic and this one might be the worst you've experienced yet. Everyone's Tired: Bad Decisions AboundBy "everyone," I mean the 30 QA testers and...
Many people recognize DevOps as an enormous benefit – faster application deployment, automated toolchains, support of more granular updates, better cooperation across groups. However, less appreciated is the journey enterprise IT groups need to make to achieve this outcome. The plain fact is that established IT processes reflect a very different set of goals: stability, infrequent change, hands-on administration, and alignment with ITIL. So how does an enterprise IT organization implement change to achieve DevOps outcomes? Bernard Golden sat down with Andi Mann, VP in the Office of Strategic...
Business leadership is both science and art. The scientific aspects revolve around finance, organization, products and service. Artistic aspects include relationships, market trajectories and business strategies. While many focus on the science through books and training, the art of business is best learned from real practitioners. That is why I jumped at the chance to meet Dimension Data's Steve Nola during the company's analyst event, Perspectives 2015, in Prague, Czech Republic. Steve is the company's ITaaS Group Executive and prior to this, served separate stints as Chief Executive Officer...
There’s a story that needs to be written, in fact it’s not a story it’s a piece of technical analysis. We need to know why Big Data connectivity is not as simple as connecting Lego building blocks. Vendors in the ‘cloud ERP financials’ space are fond of using terms like multi-channel to talk about the need to bring together previously disconnected elements of data (including Big Data) for the new way we are supposed to work with technology..
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Past SYS-CON Events
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Cloud Expo 2011 Allstar Conference Faculty

S.F.S.
Dell

Singer
NRO

Pereyra
Oracle

Ryan
OpSource

Butte
PwC

Leone
Oracle

Riley
AWS

Varia
AWS

Lye
Oracle

O'Connor
AppZero

Crandell
RightScale

Nucci
Dell Boomi

Hillier
CiRBA

Morrison
Layer 7 Tech

Robbins
NYT

Schwarz
Oracle

What The Enterprise IT World Says About Cloud Expo
 
"We had extremely positive feedback from both customers and prospects that attended the show and saw live demos of NaviSite's enterprise cloud based services."
  –William Toll
Sr. Director, Marketing & Strategic Alliances
Navisite
 


 
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  –Richard Wellner
Chief Scientist
Univa UD
 


 
"Good crowd, good questions. The event looked very successful."
  –Simon Crosby
CTO
Citrix Systems
 


 
"It's the largest cloud computing conference I've ever seen."
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CTO
Brick Group