PCI DSS v4.0 draft released

The first draft of PCI DSS v4.0 is now available to stakeholders for comment. If you’re an accredited stakeholder, be sure to get your comments in before 13 December.

But if you’re not such a stakeholder (perhaps even if you are!), consider this: the PCI DSS has a good claim to be the information security standard having the broadest adoption, while not being maintained by a government or international standards body. Instead, it’s maintained by the PCI SSC, a private company. It’s targeted at payment card operations, with the explicit objective of protecting Card Holder Data (CHD), and stakeholders are considered those in the card payment space. Because of its nature, however, the impact of this particular security standard is felt right across compliant organizations.

Whichever security standard is pushing the boundaries will typically be the one that companies have their policies and procedures align with. For many organizations which have any contact with card numbers, and particularly so for SMEs, that standard is likely to be the PCI DSS. But in recent years companies are also finding themselves with increasing compliance obligations, such as GDPR in Europe, or CCPA in California. These create general requirements for protecting personal information, but allow each regulated entity to define the specifics, driven by their own business need.

Companies now find themselves with two somewhat intersecting sets of information security requirements – some general, some very specific (PCI DSS). The result? We hear stories of companies moving marketing databases into their PCI zone, with the goal of leveraging their existing PCI security controls to streamline the protection of personal data. This would have seemed unthinkable a few years ago, when PCI scope reduction was the accepted norm. It starts to make sense in the context of maintaining a consistent set of corporate security policies and procedures, while addressing these increased data privacy obligations.

The PCI DSS has been considered a shining example of successful industry self-regulation. If something like it, originating from the payment industry, had not gotten traction, it is likely that governments would have stepped in themselves to mandate safeguarding consumer payment information. But considering the broad impact of any changes to the standard, perhaps it’s time that participation in the process of revising and maintaining this standard is opened up. It may no longer be sufficient to solicit and accept feedback from those directly involved with card payments, since it’s clear changes to the standard will have an impact felt beyond protecting CHD.

Is it time to consider that PCI DSS stakeholders are now the IT security community at large?