Payment Security Compliance drops for the first time in six years

By : |September 25, 2018 0

After documenting improvements in Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) compliance over the past six years (2010 – 2016), Verizon’s 2018 Payment Security Report (PSR) now reveals a concerning downward trend with companies failing compliance assessments and perhaps, more importantly, not maintaining – full compliance.

The Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) helps businesses that offer card payment facilities protect their payment systems from breaches and theft of cardholder data. PCI DSS compliance has been shown (via the Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report series) to help protect payment systems from both data breaches and theft of cardholder data, so this trend is alarming.

Data gathered by Verizon’s PCI DSS qualified security assessors (QSAs) during 2017 demonstrates that PCI compliance is decreasing amongst global businesses, with only 52.4 per cent of organizations maintaining full compliance in 2017, compared to 55.4 per cent in 2016. Regional differences are highlighted, demonstrating that companies in the Asia-Pacific region are more likely to achieve full compliance at 77.8 per cent, compared to those based in Europe (46.4 per cent) and the Americas (39.7 per cent). These differences can be attributed to the timing of geographical compliance rollout strategies, cultural appreciation of awards/recognition, or the maturity of IT systems.

By business sector, IT services remain on top when it comes to compliance, with over three-quarters of organizations (77.8 per cent) achieving full status. Retail (56.3 per cent) and financial services (47.9 per cent) were significantly ahead of hospitality organizations (38.5 per cent), which demonstrated the lowest compliance sustainability. With businesses often leveraging PCI DSS compliance efforts to meet the security requirements of data protection regulations, such as the European Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), this gap between the various business sectors that deal with electronic payments on a daily basis is significant.

“PCI Compliance standards are slipping across global businesses and this simply can’t continue”, comments Rodolphe Simonetti, global managing director for security consulting, Verizon. “Consumers and suppliers alike trust brands to secure their payment data, so we must act now to remedy this state of affairs. We urge businesses to reassess their measurement methodologies for PCI control effectiveness, and to concentrate on managing the sustainability of their data protection.”

Control effectiveness and sustainability are essential

Simonetti continues: “Verizon has been at the forefront of cardholder data security since 2003, working closely with the PCI community to advance PCI DSS compliance. Based on our expertise and work in the field, we have developed nine factors which help businesses sustain their compliance levels. Our aim is to provide a clear structure and methodology to firstly help compliance personnel, but also equip them to open compliance dialogue with their board members, making the narrative easier to understand. For compliance processes to be effective, they need to be driven from the top, but often progress or challenges are not clearly communicated or understood by executives.”

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