What Does it mean? PCI DSS Validation Process

VISA had a presentation last week online to discuss this very question “PCI DSS Validation Process”

We will get into the list shortly…   First let’s discuss why one needs a validation process. PCI stands for Payment Card Industry and in fact the PCI standards organization is composed of Visa, Mastercard, Discover, American Express and JCB(Japan Credit Bureau). In fact before they created the PCI standards organization (PCI Security Standards council) so that their customers and other service organizations that use credit card numbers have a security standard.

  1. First one must build the scope of the systems that affect PCI systems (Credit Card systems) — find all your credit card systems and software. These systems must be analyzed.
  2. Assess your computers means do Vulnerability analysis, i.e. review the patch level of computers and software.
  3. Remediate any patches that were not applied properly.
  4. Create a report that states where the status is of all 11 pieces of PCI compliance reporting  means are in compliance, state of remediation, or building the processes?
  5. Complete the AOC(Attestation of Compliance) paperwork.
  6. Submit your paperwork to your financial provider.

Most likely if you have heard this process before it was from your financial service provider (the company providing the credit card systems).

The process is simply:

Assess –>remediate –>  report

Don’t Forget – to add Audit to your list – use an independent auditor to make sure the opinion is unbiased.

Anyone with higher than 20,000 VISA Ecommerce transactions must get VISA Attestation of Compliance(AOC), or 1million or more in all channels.   From VISA pdf.

Contact Us

Does Outsourcing Make You More Secure?

Outsourcing is good, since we cannot specialize in everything we can focus on sales or inventory instead of mundane tasks. So what is important and what is mundane? That depends on your business…  most businesses are not a software company, so obtaining software needs by outsourcing may be smart.  Then the question is should you buy software or just rent the software on a server(“the cloud”) on the Internet?

The answers to what is important depends on your business. Obviously if you are a restaurant, it is food. But what if it is not as obvious?  How about if you are selling services online and offline(with sales people)?

Every business has customers or patients, (whatever the industry term is). And every business has to get paid somehow. So the payment information and customer database has to be secured in all businesses(or for that matter non-profits as well).

Customers are important to the business since they keep the business afloat. Thus everything to do with our customers is important to us and our competitors. Of course employee data is also important to keep secure.

This methodology is the same line of thinking when you set up a risk management analysis.

Depending on the business some important information electronically may be how one creates a product.

For all businesses the financial transactions, accounting and anything to do with money has to be safeguarded. Overarching needs of Identity Access Management(IAM) is important.

The major business sectors:

  1. Sales of items not unique(commodities) retail, wholesale, restaurants etc.
  2. Manufacturing, Mining, and Farming industries that obtain stuffs from the earth, and might have IP (intellectual property)
  3. Health industry – any business that takes care of patients
  4. Consultant industry – bills hourly rate with labor
  5. Computer  systems are used to create technology

All of these businesses have some things in common, even if not all of them may have IP (Intellectual Property), Customer database, Computer Equipment, Financial Information (accounting).

The commonality of the computer systems, accounting,customers, and employees makes all businesses think what exactly do we outsource?   the experts say outsource the functions that are not central to your main business model.  So everyone except for accountants could outsource the financial applications by using online Internet apps in the cloud(someone else runs the computer).  Notice, I do not say the reason to outsource is to be more secure.  Security on the Internet is not predicated on whether you outsource to the cloud.

To outsource has to do with business reasons not security.  The bottom line in the year 2018 and beyond Cybersecurity must be in everything no matter what.  The key is even though we expect it(Cybersecurity) we do not want to overpay.  So this is where the next stage of our analysis comes into play.

RISK MANAGEMENT – is a direct result of what is important to the business, what is outsourced, and how to allocate resources.

Every business is different, and must make the choices to weigh the needs of the business.  If you have IP then that could be more important than customers, since the customers will come back to you if you have the IP.

But if there is no IP, the most important functions might be a close tie between customers and financial (Credit Card or bank information). Everyone has Computers that connect to the Internet, here is where the true outsourcing idea can come to fruition.  So we still have to secure our personal devices to connect to the cloud.

Social Engineering and scams can always take over and steal your hard earned resources even if you have good security.  So the reality is outsourcing or “the cloud” does not matter.

Secure your devices!!  Keep up to speed with changing cybersecurity landscape such as in our Security News Analyzed page.

Contact us to make this happen by using security policies, risk management analysis and more.

 

Unknown Risks: Possible to Gauge?

Does the definition of unknown make measuring  risk also unknown?

Let’s assume a cloud account has been created on Amazon Cloud(AWS – Amazon Web Services)  or elsewhere (Rackspace, Azure, or Google cloud)

This cloud account will always be the Achilles heel of your Internet presence.  I.e. if someone gets a hold of he main account instead of who is supposed to take care of it, the criminal hacker can modify and add users so as to make imperceptible changes to your website until it is too late.

Then let’s dissect an interesting interview with Bruce Schneier at Threatpost about “Going Dark”   

Specifically “people’s long tail of digital metadata.

A person’s metadata will include the phone’s gmail account, all the places you have been using Google’s map app, and many other apps that are on your phone and soon your car. How will it all look once everything in your house, car, and work is interconnected? Identity Access Management will be that much more important.

I.e. how you can access the phone and all the apps. Every time an app says you can reset your password by sending an email, that means the email is the one thing that has to be defended without fail.

So if the cloud account was set up with a specific email, that email account has to be defended without a hacker even remotely able to access it. Of course one has to keep operational intelligence about various company actions out of social media.  I.e. a new promotion in IT in charge of cloud accounts is not something to discuss in social media(in fact anywhere). You can say you have understanding in cloud architecture, but I would not get into details.  It is important to keep many details about your environment out of any site on the Internet.

Notice how a Facebook “friend” can send you phishing requests via SMS (text or messages via Facebook) and try to get access to your computer that way.  if you click on link then it goes to a website that looks like Facebook but is really a scam. notice the URL:  facebook.ssbh.edu.bd (a Bulgarian university server)   This example is from today’s post in Internet Storm Center: Facebook Phishing via SMS

There are many ways somebody can get access to your credentials, including if you just give them away.

My policy is to never follow a link if they are asking for my credentials I just do not enter them.  Answering a bunch of questions about some quiz on Facebook, on whether you are Italian or not… is generally a bad idea as Kirstin Fawcett wrote in mentalfloss.com :“taking Facebook Quizzes Could Put You at Risk For Identity Theft”

Or maybe they are called ‘surveys’ , either way  they constitute a risk that may not be worth taking.   Every action on the Internet  increases your risk of a potential attacker gaining more insight into your environment / personal life/ or other facet that advances an attacker.

Spam email is a perfect phishing attack by hackers to gain information or credentials from you. – never click on a link that then asks for credentials to be entered.   Are there exceptions to this rule? unfortunately yes, as some reset procedures require you to click and reset your credentials in some environments.  So how does one get past this?  Not every user is going to be well versed in Domain name methods of hackers. And to some degree there will never be a 100% foolproof way to differentiate good sites from bad.

So do your social engineering training and keep up with attacks, and you have to accept some risk.

Back to my original question are unknown risk possible to gauge?  I think that some risk is impossible to put a number on it. But we can mitigate and accept some unknown risk, and keep vigilance.   Knowing as much as we can about potential unknowns is the est we can do – Some Unknown  unknowns are inevitable, but no point fretting on those.

contact Us to discuss this.

Is There Cyber Risk? How to Assess Risk?

An interesting video from RSA Conference 2018: “There’s no such Thing as a Cyber-risk”

So if you look at possible risk domains  Computer Security (or Cybersecurity is not on there.

  1. Operations: errors – fraud – talent – employee engagement – safety
  2. Service Availability: capacity, resiliency, data integrity, intentional disruption
  3. Product delivery: pre-executions – release executions
  4. Compliance: regulatory, contractual obligations, privacy lane, employment law, other laws

Of course data integrity is there – so if there is a cybersecurity problem data integrity may become an issue.

The definition of “Operational risk” is the prospect of loss resulting from inadequate or failed procedures, systems or policies. Employee errors. System failures. fraud or other criminal activity. Any event that disrupts business processes

The problem with Cyber risk is that it can affect operations but is not always obvious how bad it can get until it happens.  Can you operate without computers? Can it get that bad? What if it does? Just like one may have electricity backup in an area which has frequent power outages, one has to consider what to do if there are no computers to run credit card transactions.

To properly assess operational risk, what is it one must ask in regards to computer assets with regard to cybersecurity? What if I cannot use this device? i.e. it has been hijacked by hackers or otherwise incapacitated.

If credit card processing is stolen, what could be worse is now your reputation can take a hit. Since the news will be filled with stories of Credit card fraud originating at your business.

Consider reputation in assessing operational risk. And reputation does not always mean systems fail or money is lost due to no electronic access.

It all depends on who you claim to be in the public space. Is your business marketing claim to be up-to-date? Then  reputation may have to have a higher impact. Make sure you are spending enough resources in relation to your REAL level of risk.

 

If you need help in assessing risk contact us.

100% Cybersecurity is Impossible

Do you want to use the Internet? Computers? Tablets? Cellphones?

There is no device created that is 100% secure with no risk.

So now what?

Risk management – is what we are supposed to do, where the risk of using something is lower than the value of using it. For example: using a computer for business reasons is worthwhile when the cost to keep it safe is relatively low (own a firewall, anti-virus software and more)

Let’s use a different example. what about if a business has highly confidential banking transactions to perform that are worth hundreds of thousands of dollars?  Now the risk of using the computer and getting infected by malware or other viruses even if low likelihood the impact would be high.  Since Likelihood*Impact = Risk

Low*High= higher risk than

Low * Low = Low  or

Low* Med =Medium-Low

 

If Likelihood is High then a small impact is bad too.

High*Low =  High risk

For High likelihood and medium or high impact it is lights out for many organizations.

High*High = Bad … very bad

This Risk matrix has to be set up to analyze the Risk management of your business.

Paul Holland also discusses this in Bsides London “Understanding your business risks are key”

Paul also discusses ‘Things to consider when making decisions on risk appetite’

  1. What kind of loss would you deem materially damaging (impact)?
  2. What can you live without and for how long(impact)?
  3. What information must not fall into the wrong hands(impact)?
  4. How do you protect your information?

So if you are a business owner or CEO, CFO, CIO then you have to answer the subjective risk questions honestly.

So if you are spending 10% on security and you have millions of dollars in risk impact,  should you spend 11% on security?  This is a difficult question to answer. Since we  cannot be 100% secure. Where do we spend money to improve security? Because of the law of diminishing returns works on everything. Sometimes more money spent is not going to be a major change, just an incremental one.

The above image is useful in letting us know when we should re-evaluate our risk profile. External changes or internal changes should cause you to re-do your matrix.

Internal:

  1. Changing markets
  2. New business areas
  3. New Leadership
  4. Change in risk appetite
  5. Cloud adoption (major technical changes)
  6. Supply chain risks

External

  1. New vulnerabilities
  2. Political changes (local, state, national, international)
  3. Regulatory changes
  4. New technology (quantum breaks encryption — AI makes attacks more sophisticated)

We all know attacks are more sophisticated, since the criminals want to attack more people with new methods to make more money every year.

Talking to an expert to navigate this huge moving target is a good idea:

Contact Us to discuss