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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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In the old world of IT, if you didn't have hardware capacity or the budget to buy more, your project was dead in the water. Budget constraints can leave some of the best, most creative and most ingenious innovations on the cutting room floor. It's a true dilemma for developers and innovators – why spend the time creating, when a project could be abandoned in a blink? That was the old world. In the new world of IT, developers rule. They have access to resources they can spin up instantly. A hybrid cloud ignites innovation and empowers developers to focus on what they need. A hybrid cloud blends the best of all worlds, public cloud, private cloud and dedicated servers to fit the needs of developers and offer the ideal environment for each app and workload without the constraints of a one-size-fits-all cloud.

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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
Cloud Expo New York.

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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
 
Cloud Expo helps focus the debate on the critical issues at hand in effect connecting main street with the next frontier."

GREG O’CONNOR
President & CEO, Appzero


Who Should Attend?
Senior Technologists including CIOs, CTOs, VPs of technology, IT directors and managers, network and storage managers, network engineers, enterprise architects, communications and networking specialists, directors of infrastructure Business Executives including CEOs, CMOs, CIOs, presidents, VPs, directors, business development; product and purchasing managers.


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SYS-CON Media has a flourishing Media Partner program in which mutually beneficial promotion and benefits are arranged between our own leading Enterprise IT portals and events and those of our partners.

If you would like to participate, please provide us with details of your website/s and event/s or your organization and please include basic audience demographics as well as relevant metrics such as ave. page views per month.

To get involved, email Marilyn Moux at marilyn@sys-con.com.

@CloudExpo Blogs
It is no doubt that the latest and greatest technologies get your juices flowing. Researching the details, comparing the benchmarks, imagining the differences you could make within your organization if you could just put the right technology solutions in the right place. If only budgets and time were endless. If only you could start again from scratch. How different things would be. Insert screeching record and your return to reality. You are not only tasked with integrating legacy systems the business has relied on for years and numerous data sources scattered throughout the organization but ...
The Smart Home concept is a subset of the Internet of Things(IoT). The core idea is to connect “things” (digital devices) to each other to facilitate communication, feedback, and alerting. In essence connecting the physical world with the digital world. We are installing new sensors and actuators into everyday devices that is leading to new IoT and Smart Home services by integrating existing solutions and technologies.
Since the birth of Hadoop in 2005-06, the way we think about storing and processing information has evolved considerably. The term “Big Data” has become synonymous with this evolution. But still, many of our customers continue to ask, “What is Big Data?”, “What are its use cases?”, and “What is its business value?”. The Internet is overloaded with definitions, characteristics, and benefits; however, few discussions synthesize all three of these topics in one place. This paper answers these questions, and proposes a total cost calculation framework for CTOs and CIOs that are evaluating solution...
Depending on whom you listen to, the private cloud is either dead or on the cusp of a major market breakthrough. Some tech pundits argue this technology has already been replaced by more efficient public cloud offerings and businesses just need time to catch up, while others claim there's a bright future for private solutions. Research supports the latter – according to IDC, spending on hosted private cloud services should hit $24 billion by 2016. Why? Because there's real value in this model. Here's a look at five compelling advantages of the private cloud. It's Not On-Premises (Necessarily...

The "internet of things" is not coming. It's here.

Driven by the introduction of low-cost "things" that are actually useful, Silicon Valley's promised land of a wirelessly-linked network of everyday objects is slowly becoming a reality.

And for those who see the data-gathering potential, the prospects are salivation-inducing; a world where everything could sense its surroundings, gathering all kinds of data and then wirelessly delivering it to a central point for analysis.

The Amazon Web Services public infrastructure cloud is seeing massive adoption, and for good reason. Using AWS arms companies with advanced infrastructure that, in most cases, they could not possibly achieve in their own datacenters. In fact, According to Gartner, AWS has 5 times more deployed cloud infrastructure as their next 14 competitors have...combined.[1] Customers like Bristol-Myers Squibb, Unilever, and Lionsgate are taking advantage of the broad and deep services of the AWS Cloud to grow their businesses and accelerate innovation.[2] However, using any public cloud infrastructure st...
Despite the data privacy protections supposedly conferred by regulations like HIPAA and HITECH, consumers’ confidential health and personal information is still not safe enough. That’s the lesson to be learned from Franklin, TN-based Community Health Systems’ (CHS) August 18 regulatory filing. In the filing, CHS disclosed that the names, SSNs, addresses, birth dates, and phone numbers of approximately 4.5 million people across 28 states have been stolen, according to Computerworld. Those 4.5 million victims, whom Computerworld reported had either received or been referred for services to CHS-a...
Appcore aims to simplify private cloud through Apache CloudStack solutions. Nate Gordon serves as the Des Moines, IA-based company's Director of Technology, in its effort to enhance Apache CloudStack and Citrix CloudPlatform for its customers. We had a few questions for him, and this is what he told us: Cloud Computing Journal: What have your customers found to be the advantages of using Apache CloudStack? Nate Gordon: Appcore understands that there are a lot of orchestration platforms in the market to chose from. Before we committed to one platform or the other, we did an extensive anal...
The Internet of Things (IoT) is making everything it touches smarter – smart devices, smart cars and smart cities. And lucky us, we’re just beginning to reap the benefits as we work toward a networked society. However, this technology-driven innovation is impacting more than just individuals. The IoT has an environmental impact as well, which brings us to the theme of this month’s #IoTuesday Twitter chat. The ability to remove inefficiencies through connected objects is driving change throughout every sector, including waste management. BigBelly Solar, located just outside of Boston, is trans...
Earlier in the year, Gartner forecast that by year-end 2016, more than 50 percent of global companies will have stored customer-sensitive data in a public cloud platform. These services can scale very quickly, which has made them very popular for applications that have a requirement for flexibility.

Cloud storage offers organizations significant cost and agility benefits, but can pose some security, privacy, accessibility and performance challenges. Therefore, a big part of selecting a best-fit cloud storage provider is investing the time to perform the research to fully understand ...
Before YARN there was another resource negotiator, Mesos. Mesos was originally documented in a research paper, followed by an Apache project, and now commercialized as Mesosphere – who are building out an ecosystem around Mesos.
I'll be hosting an SAP HANA Cloud webinar at 11am eastern time, Wednesday, October 29. You can sign up now. Featured speakers will be Allan Adler, Managing Partner, Channel Cloud Consulting, and Thorsten Leiduck, VP ISVs & Digital Commerce, SAP. Attendees will learn about • Cloud economics, hybrid cloud strategy, market size and opportunity • Introduction to SAP HANA Cloud Platform and how to: - Build new next-generation applications - Extend on-premise solutions non-disruptively through extensions in the cloud - Extend existing cloud solutions and building customized business proce...
This is a follow-up blog that is part of a series of 2015 cloud predictions. The first one, entitled When the Walls Come Down, had the following as the central thesis: In 2015 the perceived costs of cloud migration for existing production apps will drop by more than 50%; it will trigger a massive (and […]
It's hard to miss the world of opportunities that data collection and analysis have opened up. But how can you avoid having information overload? It takes a lot of will power, in our data obsessed world to say "too much!" However, there are many ways where too much information is destroying productivity, and actually causing bad decision making, not good. But it is hard to avoid the world of opportunities that has been opened in data collection and analysis. So how do you balance the two? The first step is to understand there is a big difference between data collection, and it's utilization. ...
Over the last decade, cloud computing has undeniably become a critical component of the modern enterprise. It has evolved past Software-as-a-Service for a select number of enterprise applications to encompassing entire business platforms, spanning various business devices and operating systems, and can virtually enable new ventures to pop up overnight. The state of cloud computing today is now a crowded field of vendors, providing anything and everything as-a-service – from security and management solutions for the cloud, to converged solutions and virtualization offerings, to public, privat...
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Past SYS-CON Events
    Cloud Expo West
cloudcomputingexpo
2011west.sys-con.com

 
    Cloud Expo East
cloudcexpo
2011east.sys-con.com

 
    Cloud Expo West
cloudcomputingexpo
2010west.sys-con.com

 
    Virtualization Expo West
virtualization
2010west.sys-con.com
    Cloud Expo Europe
cloudexpoeurope2010.
sys-con.com

 
    Cloud Expo East
cloudcomputingexpo
2010east.sys-con.com

 
    Virtualization Expo East
virtualizationconference
2010east.sys-con.com
    Cloud Expo West
cloudcomputingexpo
2009west.sys-con.com

 
    Virtualization Expo West
virtualizationconference
2009west.sys-con.com
    GovIT Expo
govitexpo.com
 
    Cloud Expo Europe
cloudexpoeurope2009.sys-con.com
 

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
 


 
"More and better leads than ever expected! I have 4-6 follow ups personally."
  –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."
  –David Linthicum
CTO
Brick Group