PCI Compliance Small Biz Simplified

There are 12 pieces to PCI compliance, let’s list them and find if they are applicable, or if we can minimize our attention.

first of all it is not a major point in the standards, but creating an inventory of devices is paramount in becoming PCI compliant. Being compliant will also be easier for you if you make a proper inventory (with all the software and hardware that is applicable), but it is also good for general security even if not needed due to not touching payment card data.  Basically for PCI compliance anything that touches payment card data is going to get some extra scrutiny.

So guess what, you need to have documentation and procedures to make sure only the right people will access the data and not abuse the data. I.e. do not send payment card data in an unencrypted format over Internet for example. Another example is do not send customer data via fax or chat sessions.

So if you have documentation and have signed employee statements that they read this, then PCI compliance is easier.

 

Let’s work our way form bottom:   Must have security policy(documentation), must have testing of network and all systems, must have a firewall, must have antivirus or anti-malware software, must change default passwords, do not develop your own software (as that is much more difficult), authenticate to systems and restrict access to payment card data also physically.  Do not store cardholder data will simplify your compliance needs.

Encrypt the actual transaction from cardholder (merchant to financial institution). This machine should be an approved mechanism from your financial institution.    Although it complicates things if you have it on one of your computers. Easier if on a machine specific for swiping cards, or inserting cards.

If you focused on no development of your own software and used only a specific PCI compliant machine with documentation for your employees that would go a long way to solving your PCI compliance.  If you can segment the network (if the payment card machine needs to access the Internet which a lot do now) that will cut down on the number of machines to test by the auditor.

Monitoring the log system is just prudent, as well as making sure that the access of systems is properly authenticated.  Many of these steps are just common sense computer security items (changing default passwords).

 

Some general topic headings from PCI document:

Build and Maintain a Secure Network and Systems

  1. Install and maintain a firewall configuration to protect cardholder data
  2. Do not use vendor-supplied defaults for system passwords and other security parameters Protect Cardholder Data
  3. Protect stored cardholder data
  4. Encrypt transmission of cardholder data across open, public networks Maintain a Vulnerability Management Program
  5. Protect all systems against malware and regularly update anti-virus software or programs
  6. Develop and maintain secure systems and applications

Implement Strong Access Control Measures

  1. Restrict access to cardholder data by business need to know
  2. Identify and authenticate access to system components
  3. Restrict physical access to cardholder data

Regularly Monitor and Test Networks

  1. Track and monitor all access to network resources and cardholder data
  2. Regularly test security systems and processes

Maintain an Information Security Policy

  1. Maintain a policy that addresses information security for all personnel

 

 

 

We will test your network and give you a specific list of making PCI compliance easy to follow and complete.  Contact us to discuss.

 

Back To Basics in 2019 – Must Have Cybersecurity Issues

What was different about 2018 that will confound us in 2019?  Is there anything new in 2019 that will cause problems for us?

By ‘us’ I mean businesses trying to keep going with their business lives. I.e. run your business, try to make profits, grow product lines or services.

None of us are in tune with new technologies that can be used to upend  our current world that we live in until it is too late and we have to play catch -up. In 2007 how many people actually went and bought a smartphone before it was obvious everyone was going to get one?

This next picture is of an IBM Quantum computer as written about in Wired UK among others:

If you have not heard your computers and phones are built on an old architecture(from the 50’s and 60’s) The quantum computer is a new architecture much faster the current binary machines.

What can possibly be created with a quantum computer?

  1. Unbreakable encryption for one.
  2. Artificial Intelligence and Machine learning (similar yet different)
  3. Molecular Modeling and other sophisticated modeling
  4. Optimization programs
  5. Financial Modeling
  6. Sophisticated new attacks on hardened targets

My point is not that a new Armageddon is coming, it may be but most important is that new days may bring new challenges, and you have to be ready to take them on.

Most important you must take a little time to review new technologies and techniques to see if these methods can create security headaches for your organization.

Practically though the place where we all will get hit is regulations. As more high profile cyber attacks make inroads in organizations the regulations will make life more difficult(more paperwork).

More paperwork means risk based analysis and scanning / audits of networks and computers.

End result is we need more vigilance even if our computers are in “the cloud”.

In the above AWS youtube video   some common sense:

The first thing any auditor will want to see is your documentation.  What is your documentation? Do you have a security policy? Do your employees read it and sign off on it? I.e. is Cybersecurity at least a little bit important?

We are in the business of Computer Cyber audits to help your business be more secure and thus handle the coming challenges in 2019 wherever they may come (technological or regulatory).

Contact Us to discuss

 

Is Compliance Enough for Your Company?

If you accept credit cards you need PCI compliance

If you have health data then you need HIPAA compliance.

A financial company gets many pieces of compliance which depends on what types of financial instruments you sell. You may need other types of compliance.

Unfortunately PCI compliance does not require a backup of your critical data , so if you have critical data then it is up to your judgement to set up processes to make sure if they are corrupted then can be recovered.

This point of corruption of data to recovery is the single most likely reason for small businesses to fail six months after a major cybersecurity event.

In 2019 your company could be doing business as usual in January, then in February the right attack could cause problems for your company…  if you are not ready for it, six months later you could be out of business.

Which is why we want to highlight it and make sure you understand the inattention that can cause disaster.

We are here to go over your processes to make sure that this type of disaster does not happen. You can make it go away for a few dollars and attention. That is all it takes.

Contact Us to discuss – Three-One-Four-five -zero-four, three,nine, seven, four.  Leave me a message and I will get back to you.

TonyZ

 

 

Vulnerability Management Fixed!

So that we are all on the same page -Vulnerability Management is when an IT department manages it’s inventory of devices with regard to what vulnerabilities each device could be at risk for.

So if every system you own has a vulnerability, and you have 1000 systems it could get a bit challenging to manage. Consistently updating all systems for all vulnerabilities is a constant job of testing the patch, and updating the production system at a convenient time to the business.

At cvedetails.com you can review all cve’s (Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures)Each piece of software and hardware can have a potential vulnerability. This is much bigger than you think.

Powershell can give you a list of your programs:

Get-ItemProperty HKLM:\Software\Wow6432Node\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Uninstall\* | Select-Object DisplayName, DisplayVersion, Publisher, InstallDate | Format-Table –AutoSize

From the “How-To Geek” website:

A sample in this image:

The image above has 38 pieces of software(which is likely not comprehensive).   Technically all of these can have a vulnerability(not including Windows and all of it’s subpieces).

So already you can see that 100 systems with at least 40 or 50 pieces can have 4000 to 5000 software versions that may not be the same versions for your network.

This is why there are 109403 vulnerabilities, since a vulnerability for software ABC v1.0 is different from ABC v2.0.

So if this is such a large difficult beast, how can we tame it? Or even fix it?

Actually it is relatively easy to fix by combining Risk management and vulnerability management.

 

Evaluate all your systems – which system has the most risk and highest impact with failure?

Finding this system should receive most of your focus on testing and updating. And that is just the start, as now the difficult part of figuring what to do with  the other systems, as if you ignore the other systems attackers will come in from that angle.

Contact us to review your systems and set up a risk management matrix for all your systems.

Run Microsoft(Powershell) Software On Linux? More Risk

Did you think it would never happen? Microsoft and Linux are increasing in their ties to each other.

So as we protect systems in our networks, we are increasingly incorporating Linux systems for various reasons, Web servers, specific SQL server database needs  or other reasons (file sharing or other support systems).

A potential threat vector to the Microsoft Windows environment/ network could be the Linux machine. Especially if Microsoft Powershell  commands can be run on a Linux machine. Now you can truly have any machine  that is taken over be the breach entry that takes down your network.

How is this possible (viewing Internet Storm Center posts)? By installing a number of software pieces:

  1. First install Powershell itself
  2. Second install Mono (an open source implementation of Microsoft’s .NET framework)
  3. Install OpenXML
  4. Now you can run Powershell

This is an interesting development as it means that even a Linux machine can be turned into a sophisticated attack machine into your environment.  Of course we knew that as Kali Linux has specific attack tools. But now we are not using attack tools but Microsoft tools running on Linux.

I want to switch directions a little bit and discuss the problems of directing a company:  By stating “Business Decisions” — “External Pressure”  in a Risk Assessment discussion.

The cybersecurity – world of vulnerabilities is in the space of “External Pressure”, but I wanted to create a picture of the whole world of Risk for a company. And the risks are in Supply Chain,cloud, leadership/labor,change in technologies.  When one sees risk for the company in its totality, the new vulnerabilities risk is much smaller in comparison to the others. especially if the other risks are changes in competitors(Amazon) or changes in environment.

It is only when some news event comes into the fore, like a major breach, then it is obvious that Cybersecurity needs to be reviewed periodically.

Of course if one did that in the first place, then one can focus on the market and technology changes.

This is the problem we computer risk professionals wage, as the CEO/CFO are forever working the major problems for the company, and they rarely see cybersecurity as a major threat – due to much more important problems for the company.

Contact Us to discuss how we can let you focus on more important things, let us do some of the Cybersecurity items.