Category Archives: Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard

Six Degrees Group Achieves PCI DSS Compliance

Six Degrees Group, a provider of integrated managed data services, today announces that following an official audit its datacentres and security systems are now fully compliant with the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS).

The confirmation of PCI DSS compliance complements Six Degrees Group’s ISO27001: 2005 certification for information security, which emphasises the Group’s commitment to protecting and securing clients’ data.

PCI DSS is a set of comprehensive standards for ensuring the security of financial payment data that was developed by the founding payment brands of the PCI Security Standards Council including Visa Inc., American Express and MasterCard Worldwide. As a result of this certification, Six Degrees is now on the approved global Visa Merchant register.

Mike Ing, group business operations director of Six Degrees Group, stated: “These standards globally govern all organisations that store, process or transmit cardholder data. Achieving this compliance provides our customers and prospects with the reassurance that Six Degrees Group is committed to the security and confidentiality of sensitive data by meeting the physical security requirements of the PCI standard.”

Five IT Security Predictions for 2013

Guest Post by Rick Dakin, CEO and co-founder of Coalfire, an independent IT GRC auditor

Last year was a very active year in the cybersecurity world. The Secretary of Defense announced that the threat level has escalated to the point where protection of cyber assets used for critical infrastructure is vital. Banks and payment processors came under direct and targeted attack for both denial of service as well as next-generation worms.

What might 2013 have in store? Some predictions:

1. The migration to mobile computing will accelerate and the features of mobile operating systems will become known as vulnerabilities by the IT security industry. 

Look out for Windows 95 level security on iOS, Android 4 and even Windows 8 as we continue to connect to our bank and investment accounts – as well as other important personal and professional data – on smartphones and tablets.

As of today, there is no way to secure an unsecured mobile operating system (OS). Some risks can be mitigated, but many vulnerabilities remain. This lack of mobile device and mobile network security will drive protection to the data level. Expect to see a wide range of data and communication encryption solutions before you see a secure mobile OS.

The lack of security, combined with the ever-growing adoption of smartphones and tablets for increasingly sensitive data access, will result is a systemic loss for some unlucky merchant, bank or service provider in 2013. Coalfire predicts more   than 1 million users will be impacted and the loss will be more than $10 million.

2. Government will lead the way in the enterprise migration to “secure” cloud computing.

No entity has more to gain by migrating to the inherent efficiencies of cloud computing than our federal government. Since many agencies are still operating in 1990s-era infrastructure, the payback for adopting shared applications in shared hosting facilities with shared services will be too compelling to delay any longer, especially with ever-increasing pressure to reduce spending.

As a result, Coalfire believes the fledgling FedRAMP program will continue to gain momentum and we will see more than 50 enterprise applications hosted in secure federal clouds by the end of 2013. Additionally, commercial cloud adoption will have to play catch-up to the new benchmark that the government is setting for cloud security and compliance. It is expected that more cloud consumers will want increased visibility into the security and compliance posture of commercially available clouds.

3. Lawyers will discover a new revenue source – suing negligent companies over data breaches.

Plaintiff attorneys will drive companies to separate the cozy compliance and security connection. It will no longer be acceptable to obtain an IT audit or assessment from the same company that is managing an organization’s security programs. The risk of being found negligent or legally liable in any area of digital security will drive the need for independent assessment.

The expansion of the definition of cyber negligence and the range of monetary damages will become more clear as class action lawsuits are filed against organizations that experience data breaches.

4. Critical Infrastructure Protection (CIP) will replace the Payment Card Industry (PCI) standard as the white-hot tip of the compliance security sword.

Banks, payment processors and other financial institutions are becoming much more mature in their ability to protect critical systems and sensitive data.  However, critical infrastructure organizations like electric utilities, water distribution and transportation remain softer targets for international terrorists.

As the front lines of terrorist activities shift to the virtual world, national security analysts are already seeing a dramatic uptick in surveillance on those systems. Expect a serious cyber attack on critical infrastructure in 2013 that will dramatically change the national debate from one of avoidance of cyber controls to one of significantly increased regulatory oversight.

5. Security technology will start to streamline compliance management.

Finally, the cost of IT compliance will start to drop for the more mature industries such as healthcare, banking, payment processing and government. Continuous monitoring and reporting systems will be deployed to more efficiently collect compliance evidence and auditors will be able to more thoroughly and effectively complete an assessment with reduced time on site and less time organizing evidence to validate controls.

Since the cost of noncompliance will increase, organizations will demand and get more routine methods to validate compliance between annual assessment reports.

Rick Dakin is CEO and co-founder of Coalfire is an independent information technology Governance, Risk and Compliance (IT GRC) firm that provides IT audit, risk assessment and compliance management solutions. Founded in 2001, Coalfire has offices in Dallas, Denver, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, Seattle and Washington D.C. and completes thousands of projects annually in retail, financial services, healthcare, government and utilities. Coalfire’s solutions are adapted to requirements under emerging data privacy legislation, the PCI DSS, GLBA, FFIEC, HIPAA/HITECH, HITRUST, NERC CIP, Sarbanes-Oxley, FISMA and FedRAMP.

LogRhythm Partners with VMware to Automate Regulatory Compliance in Virtualized Environments

LogRhythm today announced that it has partnered with VMware to contribute to its newly introduced VMware Compliance Reference Architectures, a set of resources including solution guides and design architectures intended to simplify compliance for business-critical applications in the cloud era. As part of this initiative, LogRhythm has published the LogRhythm Solution Guide for Payment Card Industry (PCI), an addendum to the VMware Solution Guide for PCI. The LogRhythm solution addendum is a QSA-reviewed guide that outlines how the company’s SIEM 2.0 platform complements existing VMware security capabilities to help customers assure PCI compliance when virtualizing mission-critical business applications with VMware vSphere®.

“Security and compliance are top concerns for organizations seeking to virtualize critical business systems such as PCI payment processing,” said Parag Patel, vice president, Global Strategic Alliances, VMware. “We’re committed to helping customers address these concerns on their journey to the cloud, and partners like LogRhythm extend our native security capabilities to make this possible. Through our solution guides, VMware and LogRhythm are delivering a validated roadmap that details how organizations can achieve PCI compliance in virtualized environments.”

LogRhythm’s SIEM 2.0 platform delivers the visibility and insight needed to detect, defend against and respond to increasingly sophisticated cyber threats, efficiently meet compliance requirements, and proactively respond to operational challenges. The company provides out-of-the box compliance solutions that enable organizations to meet their requirements for log data collection, review, archive, reporting, and alerting under mandates such as PCI, HIPAA, NERC-CIP, GLBA, Sarbanes Oxley, GPG 13, and other regulatory regimes. LogRhythm’s PCI compliance package features specific investigations, alarms and reports designed to meet PCI reporting requirements, and directly addresses or augments at least 80 individual PCI controls. With fully integrated file integrity monitoring, advanced multi-tenant support, robust reporting, and rapid search and drill-down capabilities, LogRhythm is an ideal solution for addressing PCI compliance requirements in virtual environments. LogRhythm can ensure that sensitive data, such as credit card account information, is not inappropriately accessed by shared virtual resources or unauthorized individuals. LogRhythm is field-proven in numerous deployments where the solution is being used to automate and assure regulatory compliance in virtual environments.

“We’re very pleased to have been selected by VMware to help address the compliance requirements of customers moving their critical systems to virtual and private cloud environments,” said Matt Winter, vice president corporate and business development at LogRhythm. “LogRhythm has a significant track record helping customers meet their regulatory compliance obligations in virtual, physical and hybrid environments. Our compliance capabilities dovetail well with VMware’s native security offerings to create a robust and comprehensive solution. With the VMware Solution Guide for PCI and LogRhythm’s addendum solution guide, organizations can have confidence that there is a detailed, validated path to maintaining PCI compliance in virtualized environments.”

The LogRhythm Solution Guide for PCI has been reviewed by Coalfire, an independent Qualified Security Assessor specializing in IT audit, risk assessment and compliance management, and is available for download on the LogRhythm website and VMware Solution Exchange.

Coalfire Opens VMware Compliance Lab

Coalfire Systems, Inc. today announced that it has established the VMware Compliance Lab, a center of excellence and that designs, tests and promotes IT security best practices and audit guidelines for virtualized computing environments.

The VMware Compliance Lab, housed in Coalfire’s Seattle office, provides partners and end users with the information and tools they need to expedite the audit process and ensure compliance with major IT security standards, including PCI DSS, HIPAA/HITECH, GLBA, FISMA and FedRAMP. As a fully-independent IT Governance, Risk an Compliance firm, Coalfire gathers reference architecture and controls data from VMware, tests those controls in both the lab and the field, and issues guidance documents that security professionals can use to manage risk and compliance. In addition to VMware products, the Lab also houses and tests controls information from other products built on the VMware reference architecture, including solutions from EMC, RSA, HP, Symantec, McAfee and LogRhythm.

“Coalfire is partnering with VMware and other industry leaders to promote security and compliance in virtualized environments,” said Rick Dakin, CEO, co-founder and senior strategist at Coalfire. “Our lab provides a clearinghouse of un-biased, tested and proven best practices, and as those best practices are adopted in the field, end users will be able to streamline and risk and compliance efforts.”

”Coalfire’s thought leadership and IT audit expertise enables our partners and customers to confidently virtualize highly regulated workloads and meet their regulatory requirements. The guidance provided by Coalfire coupled with VMware’s proven leadership and ecosystem enables enterprises to use their virtualization investment as they move business critical applications to the cloud,” said Parag Patel, vice president, Global Strategic Alliances.

Four Things You Need to Know About PCI Compliance in the Cloud

By Andrew Hay, Chief Evangelist, CloudPassage

Andrew HayAndrew Hay is the Chief Evangelist at CloudPassage, Inc. where he is lead advocate for its SaaS server security product portfolio. Prior to joining CloudPassage, Andrew was a a Senior Security Analyst for 451 Research, where he provided technology vendors, private equity firms, venture capitalists and end users with strategic advisory services.

Anyone who’s done it will tell you that implementing controls that will pass a PCI audit is challenging enough in a traditional data center where everything is under your complete control. Cloud-based application and server hosting makes this even more complex. Cloud teams often hit a wall when it’s time to select and deploy PCI security controls for cloud server environments. Quite simply, the approaches we’ve come to rely on just don’t work in highly dynamic, less-controlled cloud environments. Things were much easier when all computing resources were behind the firewall with layers of network-deployed security controls between critical internal resources and the bad guys on the outside.

Addressing the challenges of PCI DSS in cloud environments isn’t an insurmountable challenge. Luckily, there are ways to address some of these key challenges when operating a PCI-DSS in-scope server in a cloud environment. The first step towards embracing cloud computing, however, is admitting (or in some cases learning) that your existing tools might be not capable of getting the job done.

Traditional security strategies were created at a time when cloud infrastructures did not exist and the use of public, multi-tenant infrastructure was data communications via the Internet. Multi-tenant (and even some single-tenant) cloud hosting environments introduce many nuances, such as dynamic IP addressing of servers, cloud bursting, rapid deployment and equally rapid server decommissioning, that the vast majority of security tools cannot handle.

First Takeaway: The tools that you have relied upon for addressing PCI related concerns might not be built to handle the nuances of cloud environments.

The technical nature of cloud-hosting environments makes them more difficult to secure. A technique sometimes called “cloud-bursting” can be used to increase available compute power extremely rapidly by cloning virtual servers, typically within seconds to minutes. That’s certainly not enough time for manual security configuration or review.

Second Takeaway: Ensure that your chosen tools can be built into your cloud instance images to ensure security is part of the provisioning process.

While highly beneficial, high-speed scalability also means high-speed growth of vulnerabilities and attackable surface area. Using poorly secured images for cloud-bursting or failing to automate security in the stack means a growing threat of server compromise and nasty compliance problems during audits.

Third Takeaway: Vulnerabilities should be addressed prior to bursting or cloning your cloud servers and changes should be closely monitored to limit the expansion of your attackable surface area.

Traditional firewall technologies present another challenge in cloud environments. Network address assignment is far more dynamic in clouds, especially in public clouds. There is rarely a guarantee that your server will spin up with the same IP address every time. Current host-based firewalls can usually handle changes of this nature but what about firewall policies defined with specific source and destination IP addresses? How will you accurately keep track of cloud server assets or administer network access controls when IP addresses can change to an arbitrary address within a massive IP address space?

Fourth Takeaway: Ensure that your chosen tools can handle the dynamic nature of cloud environments without disrupting operations or administrative access.

The auditing and assessment of deployed servers is an addressable challenge presented by cloud architectures. Deploying tools purpose-built for dynamic public, private and hybrid cloud environments will also ensure that your security scales alongside your cloud server deployments. Also, if you think of cloud servers as semi-static entities deployed on a dynamic architecture, you will be better prepared to help educate internal stakeholders, partners and assessors on the aforementioned cloud nuances – and how your organization has implemented safeguards to ensure adherence to PCI-DSS.


Compliant Cloud includes all products, services required to keep cloud infrastructures compliant with PCI DSS, HIPAA, ISO 27001/2

Image representing ControlCase as depicted in ...

Image via CrunchBase

Compliant Cloud includes all the necessary products and services required to keep cloud infrastructures secure and compliant with PCI DSS, HIPAA, ISO 27001/2 and other regulations and standards.

US companies remain concerned over lingering data security risks with new cloud-based applications – and as a result, they lag behind Asia-Pacific and Latin American companies in the adoption of cloud computing by nearly two to one, according to a recent report in Forbes magazine. ControlCase has developed a solution to alleviate these security issues and allow US companies to confidently leverage the latest cloud-based systems.

ControlCase has partnered with leading cloud-based technology providers to make this elegant package of solutions complete and comprehensive; Skydera provides an easy-to-use management interface, while Amazon hosts the service securely and reliably.

The Compliant Cloud service is incorporated into ControlCase’s unique Compliance as a Service (CaaS) platform, the industry-changing solution that provides one convenient source for a complete and continuous suite of compliance and security services, including internal and external security testing, 24/7/365 data log monitoring and alerting, policy management, training and certification.

ControlCase’s development of the Compliant Cloud service represents the strength of the company’s broader vision to help organizations achieve compliance more quickly, more consistently. “With the proliferation of cloud usage, it is only natural that our clients worry about the security and compliance of their current or intended use of cloud-based applications,” explained CEO Kishor Vaswani. “ControlCase has made it easier for our clients to adopt these new technologies by solving the security and compliance needs of their cloud infrastructures.”

For more information about ControlCase and the Compliant Cloud service, visit or call 703.483.6383.