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How to Manage a PCI Network

The banking system has grown in various parts of the world with the help of technology. Since the evolution of banks, the primary operation of banks has been to provide its customers with the financial assistance of all kinds. In adherence to this objective, the authorities are required to abide by the PCI (Payment Card Industry) and DSS (Data Security Standards) guidelines. These are formulated to protect the data of the cardholders and detect any breach or leak in the information. Thefts must be bound to occur in payment card systems; hence managing PCI networks becomes essential to every banking company. Here are the following requirements to manage the PCI network:

Understanding PCI Network and DSS Guidelines 

PCI DSS has a broad scope of applicability over specific networks. But before understanding the meaning, nature, and extent of PCI networks, it is essential to understand the importance of cardholder information. The components of cardholder information include all those elements involved in the applicability of PCI networks in DSS guidelines. 

However, companies must determine whether such guidelines apply to them or not.  It may seem straightforward and simple to decide on the applicability and scope to manage the PCI networks, but it is a complex process. A significant chunk of it depends on the transfer and transmission of stored data. It is better to consult with a PCI Qualified Security Assessor to deal with managing these networks through PCS. 

Maintain Router Configuration 

The PCI Security Standards Council provided all the guidelines necessary to be followed by the organization engaged in storing cardholders’ data. Hence, the firewalls and router configuration are the first steps in managing the PCI network. 

Firewalls are the devices that hold the computer networks and withhold sensitive information; it helps to deny traffic from the untrusted unknown sources to protect the cardholder data on the computer. This is done with the help of other configurations. 

Avoid Vendor-Supplied Default Passwords

Often banks provide a default username, password, and other credentials to the clients. But customers are advised by the PCI SSC to change them at the earliest. Hackers usually get into the internal networks of the system by way of default passwords. If you want to manage the PCI network safely, then it is best to encrypt and configure your passwords from the banks

This can help in the protection of information from the host environment as provided in the PCI standards. Even wireless devices connected to the cardholder can pave out a way for the hackers to commit a breach of data; not using the vendor-supplied passwords is the only option left with the cardholders. 

Protect Stored Data of the Cardholder

Organizations that accept or transmit any information of the cardholder shall be liable to follow the guidelines provided by PCI Council. The protection of the data stored with the banks is their responsibility. In Managed PCI Networks, it is advised that cardholders also do not keep any sensitive information in such networks. 

Many banks tend to limit the storage and retention time of the cardholders; it is beneficial to reduce the risk of hacking. Several cryptography techniques and security control devices can also be used to manage PCI networks efficiently. 

Implement Controls Over Access

Most of the information is encrypted, but when hackers get a loophole to commit the breach, then implementing controls over accessibility is the best solution. According to the provisions stated in PCI DSS guidelines, each person shall be assigned a unique identification to get access to the computer information. 

Making the passwords unreadable can also help in building a strong PCI network to secure the privacy of cardholders. Managing the PCI DSS networks has become easier with the help of user authentication techniques. 

Provide a Unique ID for Each Cardholder 

There are several requirements mentioned in the network segmentation strategy, which can help to manage the networks. Assigning a unique ID to the cardholder ensures that the stored information is not diverted or diluted. The unique ID can access the stored or transferred data from the Zone, the network access area for cardholders. Here the cardholder’s data is off from the rest of the network. 

This subset of PCI networks ensures that the cardholders’ data is protected with a minimum set of policies of passwords. The cardholders shall only know these IDs and passwords on the need to know basis. These unique IDs are determined based on the size of the organization, integrated network controls for access, and the operations from secured networks. 

Update the Antivirus Software Regularly

The DSS guidelines mention the requirements of having an antivirus and malware software to deal with external damage to the information of cardholders. Regularly scanning the network traffic can also help in keeping regular checks on the information and data being stored, accessed, and transferred. 

Such policies must be set in the organization, ensuring that proper antivirus and malware software assist in protecting data. However, this may act as a supplement for the security of data and access controls but not as replacements. As per the PCI DSS guidelines, every organization shall be capable of enforcing the updated antivirus software to deal with malicious data for securing the base production servers. 

Track Test Security Systems 

A firewall isolates most segmented networks; these networks are placed with security in the Zone where. Cardholders do the storage, access, and transfer through the unique ID and password assigned to them. However, even after managing PCI networks with security, there is a need to track and monitor the security systems. There is an urgent need for tracking the security of even within the Zone, even after being secured by password policies. 

Here the objective of management of PCI networks gets two-fold: firstly, the system is required to use logs for the identification of trends in the market and secondly, detection of any security compromise being done in the Zone when it is password protected by the cardholders. 

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Subrata Das

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