Monday, 17 December 2012

Myth #4: We comply with PCI DSS

There are a lot of organisation who think they are compliant with the controls in the PCI DSS, but really aren’t.  There are even more that were compliant at a point of time in the past, but aren’t now.  But let’s for the moment assume that an organisation really is compliant with the 6 objectives, 12 requirements and 225 controls in the PCI DSS.  Does this mean that they are more secure?

The Verizon 2012 Data Breach Investigations Report provides statistics on organisations that suffered a data breach, but should have been compliant with the PCI DSS.  If they were compliant they were 24× less likely to suffer a loss.  This is a really clear statistic, companies really are far more secure if they are compliant with the PCI DSS.

Of course this shouldn’t be a surprise, since the standard is just good security practice, and if organisations take this good practice and apply it to everything, it naturally follows that they will be more secure.

But there were still breaches from PCI DSS compliant organisations.  This doesn’t imply that the standard isn’t good enough – there is no such thing as perfect security – but more perhaps reflects that the only part of an organisation covered by the standard is the cardholder data environment.  It’s possible to have a compliant cardholder data environment, but neglect security in other areas, and still get compromised.

Compliance drives security, but does not equal security.

If PCI DSS is used as a basis for the entire security culture, then this myth is confirmed.

Phil Kernick Chief Technology Officer